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It Works! New Data on Health Insurance and the New Health Care Law

If you had any doubt that the new health care law is helping women and their families get health insurance – and given the Chicken Little-level hysteria that seems to still affect critics of the new law, you can be forgiven for harboring a few doubts – a new survey released yesterday should calm those fears. According to Gallup, the uninsured rate for adults in states that have implemented both major coverage components of the Affordable Care Act has fallen, on average, 2.5 percentage points in the first three months of full implementation. These 21 states and the District of Columbia, which expanded coverage through Medicaid and established their own health insurance marketplaces (including those running “partnership” marketplaces), have widened the gap in average rates of uninsurance between themselves and states that have not taken both of these steps.

Not only is the sky not falling, but the law is working as it should. Which is great – we should all celebrate these early results. But it also means that we can’t take a much-deserved break now that health care enrollment has largely closed for 2014. As states and women’s health advocates look towards 2015, 2016 and beyond, some key next steps should include pushing remaining states to expand coverage through Medicaid and urging additional states to establish their own health insurance marketplaces. The Gallup data shows us that the states that have leaned in to the new health care law have seen the greatest return on their efforts – namely, a larger and faster-growing proportion of their adult population with health insurance. Chicken Little went to go see the king after an acorn dropped on her head (and in most versions of the story, that didn’t work out so well for her). With this data, and more that is sure to follow, we can educate the public and our policymakers about how to make sure we have a happy ending, by making the most of the new law.