October 16, 2015

Nearly 9 million gained insurance nationwide in first marketplace year

Data released by the U.S. Census Bureau September 16 in its “American Community Survey” shows that the uninsured rate in Ohio dropped to 8.4 percent in 2014, down from 11 percent the previous year. Nationwide, the U.S. Census Bureau’s survey found that the percentage of uninsured U.S. residents declined to 11.7 percent, from 14.5 percent. Results from another census survey, also released September 16, showed the national rate of uninsured people shrank from 13.3 percent to 10.4 percent, or by 8.8 million people. That survey counts people as uninsured only if they have gone without health coverage for the entire year.

“As a health system, we believe families and communities are stronger when everyone has access to quality, affordable health care. The census numbers support our message that increased access is making a true difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of Ohioans and millions of Americans,” said Heather Stoll, vice president of external affairs, Sisters of Charity Health System.

The survey found the biggest increases were in people covered by Medicaid (up 2 percentage points to 62 million people) and people buying their own health plans (up 3.2 percentage points to 14.6 million people). The uninsured rate dropped for every age, income and ethnic group, and in every state.

In an article in Kaiser Health News, Diane Rowland, head of the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, said, “For the general population, this is a historic drop.” More importantly, said Rowland, “the gains are exactly where the biggest problems were,” meaning the largest increases in coverage were in those groups with traditionally the highest rates of uninsurance—younger, working-age adults and people with low and moderate incomes.

In a speech at the Howard University College of Medicine September 22, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia M. Burwell reflected on the progress of the first five years of the Affordable Care Act. Citing a new ASPE Data Point released by Health and Human Services, Secretary Burwell noted that about 17.6 million uninsured people have gained health coverage as the law’s coverage provisions have taken effect.

“Five years in, millions of people have new coverage and the percentage of the uninsured has been reduced to the lowest level on record,” said Secretary Burwell. “We now have a new opportunity before us to build on this progress. We know current marketplace customers are satisfied with their coverage, and we expect most to continue with it. We also believe we can continue to connect people with the coverage they need and further decrease the number of Americans without health insurance.”

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From its Cleveland headquarters, the Sisters of Charity Health System provides oversight, leadership and strategic direction to more than 20 organizations responding to community needs in Canton and Cleveland, Ohio, and South Carolina.

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