Obamacare kept reducing number of Americans without health insurance during Trump's first months in office

  • There are now 20.5 million fewer uninsured Americans than since 2010.
  • States that expanded Medicaid saw dramatic declines in the number of uninsured residents.
  • The new data comes about two months before the start of open enrollment in Obamacare health plans.
An insured patient under the Affordable Care Act receives a checkup at the South Broward Community Health Services clinic in Hollywood, Florida.
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An insured patient under the Affordable Care Act receives a checkup at the South Broward Community Health Services clinic in Hollywood, Florida.

The nation's rate of people without health insurance was at historically low levels during President Donald Trump's first several months in office, at the same time he was pushing hard for the elimination of Obamacare, new federal data show.

The data, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is sure to be used as a measuring stick for how Trump administration policies affect the nation's uninsured rate, which has plummeted since the rollout of the Affordable Care Act.

In the first three months of 2017, just 8.8 percent of Americans — or 28.1 million people — lacked health insurance, the CDC said.

That is about 500,000 fewer uninsured people than in 2016, a difference that the CDC called "nonsignificant" in a report issued by the agency Tuesday.

There are now 20.5 million fewer people without health insurance than there were in 2010, when Obamacare, as the ACA is popularly known, began taking effect, the agency said.

In 2010, 16 percent of Americans, or 48.6 million people, were uninsured at the time of an interview with the CDC.

And as much of 19.8 percent of people had been uninsured for at least part of the year prior to such an interview in 2010.

The CDC's new report comes slightly more than two months before the Nov. 1 start of open enrollment in Obamacare health plans for 2018.

And it comes after months of ultimately unsuccessful efforts by Republicans in Congress and the Trump administration to pass legislation that would repeal and replace key provisions of Obamacare.

Those efforts have been stymied because of reluctance by several Republican senators to risk a significant reversal in the growth of the number of Americans who currently have health insurance as a result of Obamacare.

The ACA, which requires most people to have some form of health coverage or pay a tax penalty, reduced the number of uninsured people through several means. The first was allowing adults under the age of 26 to be covered by their parents' health plans.

The second was subsidizing the expansion of Medicaid to cover nearly all low-income adults in states that opted to do so with that joint federal-state health-care program.

The CDC's report on Tuesday noted that in the 31 states and the District of Columbia that expanded Medicaid, the percentage of uninsured adults plunged from 18.4 percent in 2013 to just 8.6 percent in the first three months of 2017.

In stark contrast, the uninsured rate among adults in the 19 states that did not expand Medicaid fell less than 5 percentage points, from 22.7 percent in 2013 to 18.4 percent in the first three months of this year.

The third way the ACA expanded insurance coverage was in authorizing the creation of government-run Obamacare marketplaces, such as HealthCare.gov, to sell individual health plans to people who did not have coverage through a job or other sources, such as Medicaid and Medicare. The ACA also subsidizes the purchase of marketplace-sold plans by low- and middle-income customers.

About 10.8 million people were covered by a marketplace-sold Obamacare plan in the first three months of 2017. That's the same number covered during the year-earlier period, the CDC said.

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