New federal government data shows the percentage of Americans without health insurance was at or near historic lows this year following the roll-out of the Affordable Care Act, and appears certain to fall to record levels next year. The data released Thursday from the National Center for Health Statistics' National Health Interview Survey found that 11.3 percent of Americans were without coverage in the second quarter of 2014, down from 13.1 percent in the first quarter and 14.4 percent throughout 2013. An analysis by the White House Council of Economic Advisers finds the drop in the uninsured to be the largest in four decades, amounting to roughly 9.7 million Americans getting insurance, consistent with other Affordable Care Act estimates.
The Affordable Care Act covers an enormous amount of policy ground, and on every front, it's having considerable success. But the point of initiating the reform effort in the first place was to bring coverage to those who need it -- Americans, like residents of every other advanced democracy on the planet, should be able to receive affordable medical care when they need it.
And when it comes to extending coverage to those who've lacked it, the latest data is very encouraging. Time's Zeke Miller reported this morning:
Note, as encouraging as this is, the figures do not include the recent data on new enrollments, which is also quite heartening at this point.
Miller's report flagged this new piece from White House Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Jason Furman and CEA Senior Economist Matt Fiedler, who argued, "As this week's data confirm, 2014 has seen dramatic coverage gains, gains matched or exceeded only by those seen in the decade of rapid progress that followed the creation of Medicare and Medicaid. Following this year's gains, we estimate that the Nation's uninsured rate is now at or near the lowest levels ever recorded across the 50 years for which we have data."
I'm sure the right doesn't want to hear this, but results like these are what success looks like. Those wedded to the idea that "Obamacare" is a "failure" simply have their heads in the sand.
If conservatives want to stick to the argument that the Affordable Care Act, despite its successes, still isn't popular, it's on firmer ground. That said, the new monthly data from the Kaiser Family Foundation was released this morning and it included some interesting results.
Of particular note, the percentage of Americans who have a favorable opinion of the law has reached a two-year high, and has reached near-parity with the ACA's critics.
And as we discussed the other day, all of this coincides with a whole host of encouraging reports throughout the system, including encouraging data on premiums. And customer satisfaction rates. And the lowest increase in health care spending in 50 years. And the growing number of insurers who want to participate in exchange marketplaces. And high enrollment totals with consumers who paid their premiums. And the efficacy of Medicaid expansion. And the efficacy of the medical-loss ratio. And reduced medical errors system-wide.
The notion of Republicans on the Supreme Court taking a sledgehammer to the American health care system over the perception of a drafting error is that much more heartbreaking when we see how well the system is working as intended.