Obamacare leads to 20M insurance boost: Admin

About 20 million adults under the age of 65 have gained health insurance of some kind in the six years since Obamacare has been law, leading to an all-time low rate of Americans without insurance, President Barack Obama announced Thursday.

The new tally indicates that about 2.4 million additional people gained insurance since last fall. Obama revealed the new tally during a speech in Milwaukee, where he touted the benefits of the ACA.


Protestors raise awareness to keep Affordable Care Act.
Mark Wilson | Getty Images
Protestors raise awareness to keep Affordable Care Act.

Officials said the gains in the number of people insured over the past six years came from the expansion of Medicaid programs to include many more poor adults, the sale of private insurance plans on government-run Obamacare marketplaces, and a new rule that allows adults under the age of 26 to remain on their parents' health plans.

About 6.1 million previously uninsured young adults between the ages of 19 and 25 gained coverage since the ACA went into effect in 2010, officials said.

"Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, 20 million Americans have gained health-care coverage," said Sylvia Burwell, the secretary of the U.S. Health and Human Services Department.

"We have seen progress in the last six years that the country has sought for generations. Americans with insurance through the health insurance marketplace or through their employers have benefited from better coverage and a reduction in the growth in health-care costs."

Obama announced the new tally during a speech in Milwaukee, where he touted the benefits of the ACA, and where he was introduced by a Wisconsin man named Brent Brown, who had written a letter to the president that said "you saved my life" by getting the law passed.

Brown's letter noted that he had not voted for Obama, and that he was an ardent Republican who had previously been "very vocal in my opposition to you — particularly the ACA.

"I am so very sorry," Brown wrote. "I was so very wrong."

"I have a 'pre-existing condition' and so could never purchase health insurance," Brown wrote. "Only after the ACA came into being could I be covered."

"I would not be alive without access to care I received due to your law."

Last September, officials estimated that 17.6 million people had gained insurance because of Obamacare. The latest estimate of 20 million people reflects increased enrollment in health coverage programs, such as in 2016 health plans sold on Obamacare exchanges during open enrollment, which ended Jan. 31.

The new tally relates only to coverage gains for adults ages 18 to 64. Officials said that if children and people 65 years old are not considered, the uninsured rate is estimated to be 11.5 percent.

But officials noted that the separate National Health Interview Survey, which looks at total U.S. population, for the first nine months of 2015 has estimated that the overall uninsured rate is just 9.1 percent.

HHS noted that gains in coverage since 2010 "were strong across all racial and ethnic groups" since the Obamacare exchanges started selling health plans in October 2013. But those gains were particularly strong among blacks and Hispanics, who historically have had much higher uninsured rates than white Americans.

The uninsured rate among black non-Hispanics was cut by more than half from 22.4 percent in 2010 to 10 percent now, the administration said. The uninsured rate among Hispanics was cut by more than 25 percent, from almost 42 percent uninsured to 30.5 percent as of early 2016.

The uninsured rate among white non-Hispanics fell by more than half, from 14.3 percent in 2010 to just 7 percent, according to officials.