By the numbers: The Affordable Care Act sees tremendous success in Washington

March 17, 2014 | Tatsuko Go Hollo

pediatrician

Via UW Health on Flickr

A recent Gallup poll found the national rate of uninsurance has fallen since the Affordable Care Act has been fully implemented. At the end of 2013, more than 17% of Americans were uninsured; by March of 2014, the rate had dropped to 15.9%. A majority of the newly insured are African Americans and those from low-income households.

Enrollment numbers have gotten a big boost from Medicaid expansion. In Washington, more than 321,000 individuals have newly enrolled in Medicaid, with more than 212,000 of those being newly eligible. In addition, nearly 334,000 Medicaid recipients have re-enrolled through Washington’s health benefit exchange, the Healthplanfinder.

By the end of February, more than 100,000 Washingtonians had enrolled in private plans through the Healthplanfinder. That number is expected to rise as the end of the 2014 open enrollment period draws near. The last day for open enrollment in a private insurance plan is March 31st.

A more detailed report of data regarding enrollments through January was released in late February. Findings show enrollees of Qualified Health Plans are more likely to be older, with more than 56% aged 45 to 64. Less than 23% of those enrolled in private plans are aged 18 to 34, which mirrors the national trend. Attempts to increase enrollment among this age group have intensified, as concerns have grown about whether there are enough healthy people in exchanges to keep rates competitive. It’s too early to tell how stable exchanges will be over the year to come, but experts recognize the importance of a diverse pool of enrollees and are tailoring outreach accordingly.

Washington’s numbers also show more than four in five of those enrolled in a private plan are receiving a tax credit to cover part of their premium. To be eligible for federal premium credits, individuals must have incomes below 400% of the federal poverty level. A majority of those enrolled in private plans have incomes greater than 200% of the federal level; however a disproportionate number of state residents with low incomes are enrolled in private coverage.

There’s no doubt Washington’s Healthplanfinder has demonstrated tremendous success on the national stage of ACA implementation. Yet, it’s important to note there are still barriers to affordable coverage for a number of Washingtonians. As more data is released, the gaps will become clearer and work on ensuring accessible, quality healthcare for all can march forward.

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