Obamacare Is Reducing the Nation’s Uninsured … and Here’s Who’s Getting Covered

Party politics played into who signed up for Obamacare and who didn’t.

Supporters of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) march in the 29th annual Kingdom Day Parade on January 20, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. The Kingdom Day Parade honors the memory of African-American civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and coincides with Martin Luther King Day.
National Journal
Clara Ritger
Add to Briefcase
Clara Ritger
April 16, 2014, 1:41 p.m.

The White House has suc­ceeded in its quest to in­crease the num­ber of Amer­ic­ans who have health in­sur­ance, and the newly in­sured are young­er, lower-paid, and more likely to be Demo­crats, ac­cord­ing to a new set of sur­veys re­leased Wed­nes­day.

The na­tion’s un­in­sured rate de­clined by 3 per­cent dur­ing the Af­ford­able Care Act’s open-en­roll­ment peri­od — mean­ing that as of March an es­tim­ated 7.26 mil­lion people are in­sured who wer­en’t in Septem­ber 2013, ac­cord­ing to the Gal­lup-Health­ways Well-Be­ing In­dex. 

“It is a safe as­sump­tion at this point to at­trib­ute at least most of that de­cline to the ACA,” wrote Dan Wit­ters, re­search dir­ect­or of the Gal­lup-Health­ways Well-Be­ing In­dex, in an email.

A deep­er dive in­to the newly in­sured pop­u­la­tion shows they’re not any sick­er than the gen­er­al pop­u­la­tion. A second Gal­lup sur­vey, con­duc­ted among more than 20,000 adults every night since March 4, also shows that the newly in­sured are among the low­est wage earners in the na­tion and that they skew young­er. Those find­ings are sup­por­ted by sim­il­ar re­search re­leased Wed­nes­day by the Robert Wood John­son Found­a­tion and the Urb­an In­sti­tute.

Gal­lup Ed­it­or-in-Chief Frank New­port said that al­though a high­er pro­por­tion of the newly in­sured are young­er when com­pared with the gen­er­al pop­u­la­tion, that’s not the case for those who got their in­sur­ance on the ex­change, and it could be be­cause young people are get­ting cov­er­age by opt­ing in­to em­ploy­er plans or stay­ing on mom and dad’s health in­sur­ance. The ex­change pop­u­la­tion it­self is made up of a high­er pro­por­tion of older in­di­vidu­als, ac­cord­ing to the sur­vey.

All ma­jor ra­cial and eth­nic groups made double-di­git gains in the num­ber of people who had health in­sur­ance between the Septem­ber and March polls, al­though there wasn’t spe­cif­ic data on ex­change par­ti­cip­a­tion by race or eth­ni­city. The Health and Hu­man Ser­vices De­part­ment also has not made that in­form­a­tion avail­able.

Age, race, and in­come aren’t the only factors that define the newly in­sured, however.

“Polit­ics plays a role in everything re­lat­ing to the Af­ford­able Care Act,” New­port said. “It is not sur­pris­ing to me at any rate that one’s polit­ic­al ori­ent­a­tion af­fects one’s be­ha­vi­or in re­la­tion to in­sur­ance.”

Re­pub­lic­ans made up only 24 per­cent of the newly in­sured, as op­posed to Demo­crats, who made up 54 per­cent. Newly in­sured Re­pub­lic­ans were less likely to have pur­chased their cov­er­age on the ex­change, Gal­lup found, as op­posed to Demo­crats, who were more likely to have done so.

However, Re­pub­lic­ans’ at­ti­tudes about the ef­fect of the health care law on their fam­il­ies shif­ted, Gal­lup found. At the end of Feb­ru­ary, 73 per­cent said the health law would make things worse for their fam­ily. That dropped about 20 per­cent by the be­gin­ning of April — shift­ing in­to the cat­egory that the health law would “not make much dif­fer­ence” on their per­son­al for­tune.

What We're Following See More »
Clinton Up 9 in USA Today Poll; Up 3 According to Fox
18 hours ago

A new USA Today/Suffolk University poll finds Clinton leads Trump by 9 points nationwide, 47% to 38%. A Fox News national poll has Clinton up just three points, 44% to 41% over Trump.

Cruz: Eight Justices Could Be an Ongoing Situation
20 hours ago

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said that "there was “precedent” for a Supreme Court with fewer than nine justices—appearing to suggest that the blockade on nominee Merrick Garland could last past the election." Speaking to reporters in Colorado, Cruz said: "I would note, just recently, that Justice Breyer observed that the vacancy is not impacting the ability of the court to do its job. That’s a debate that we are going to have.”

DNC Sues RNC Over Trump’s Rigged Vote Comments
23 hours ago

The Democratic National Committee sued the Republican National Committee in U.S. District Court in New Jersey for aiding GOP nominee Donald Trump as he argues that the presidential election is "rigged." The DNC claims "that Trump's argument is designed to suppress the vote in minority communities."

Clinton Foundation Staffers Steered Biz to Bill
1 days ago

"Two chief fundraisers for the Clinton Foundation pressed corporate donors to steer business opportunities to former President Bill Clinton as well, according to a hacked memo published Wednesday by WikiLeaks. The November 2011 memo from Douglas Band, at the time a top aide to Mr. Clinton, outlines extensive fundraising efforts that Mr. Band and a partner deployed on behalf of the Clinton Foundation and how that work sometimes translated into large speaking fees and other paid work for Mr. Clinton."

House Investigators Already Sharpening Their Spears for Clinton
1 days ago

House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz plans to spend "years, come January, probing the record of a President Hillary Clinton." Chaffetz told the Washington Post: “It’s a target-rich environment. Even before we get to Day One, we’ve got two years’ worth of material already lined up. She has four years of history at the State Department, and it ain’t good.”


Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.