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Survey: Insurance Rates Lag In Holdout States

WebMD News from Kaiser Health News

By Eric Whitney

Wed, Aug 6 2014

A Gallup poll released Tuesday says that the Affordable Care Act is significantly increasing the number of Americans with health insurance, especially in states that are embracing the law. It echoes previous Gallup surveys, and similar findings by the Urban Institute and RAND Corp.

The latest Gallup survey found that, nationwide, the number of uninsured Americans dropped from 18 percent in September 2013, to 13.4 percent in June 2014. States that chose to follow the ACA’s provisions most closely, both by expanding Medicaid and establishing their own new health insurance marketplaces, as a group saw their uninsured rate drop nearly twice as much as states that declined to do so.

“Those states that have not embraced those two major mechanisms have had about half of the decline in uninsured,” said Gallup’s Dan Witters. “So there’s a clear difference in the states that have implemented those mechanisms versus those who haven’t.”

Arkansas saw the biggest decline in its uninsured rate, from 22 percent to 12 percent. Kentucky, Delaware and Colorado also saw significant declines.

“To drop 10 percent in the uninsured rate within really just six months is really an incredible achievement,” said Arkansas Surgeon General Dr. Joe Thompson. Thompson lobbied for his state’s unique, bipartisan Medicaid expansion, which uses federal funding to buy private insurance for low income people. He says about 80 percent of those with new, private insurance in Arkansas purchased it with Medicaid subsidies.

“Clearly we are having an impact that benefits our citizens,” said Thompson. “Those other states that have chosen not to make something good happen out of the Affordable Care Act are missing that opportunity on behalf of their citizens.”

Among the states that didn’t expand Medicaid or set up their own exchanges are Georgia, Indiana and Mississippi, all of which saw their uninsured rates drop less than 2 percentage points.

Sam Mims, a Republican state legislator from southwest Mississippi, said the Affordable Care Act is still not the right way to go for his state.

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