News / USA

    Survey: US Progress on Health Insurance Stalled in 2015

    FILE - A man looks over the Affordable Care Act (commonly known as Obamacare) signup page on the HealthCare.gov website in New York in this photo illustration.
    FILE - A man looks over the Affordable Care Act (commonly known as Obamacare) signup page on the HealthCare.gov website in New York in this photo illustration.
    Associated Press

    Going into President Barack Obama's last year in office, progress has stalled on reducing the number of uninsured Americans under his signature health care law, according to a major survey out Thursday.
     
    The share of U.S. adults without health insurance was 11.9 percent in the last three months of 2015, essentially unchanged from the start of the year, according to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. The ongoing survey, based on daily interviews with 500 people, has been used by media, social scientists, and administration officials to track the law's impact.
     
    Release of the latest installment comes after the Republican-led Congress voted to send legislation repealing the Affordable Care Act to Obama's desk. The president is certain to veto it, but opponents say that will only help their strategy of keeping “Obamacare” alive as a political issue in the presidential election.
     
    The sharp drop in the uninsured rate seen in 2014 - the first year of the law's major coverage expansion - now has leveled off, Gallup said in its analysis of the latest findings.
     
    “This validates concerns that similarly large reductions may not be possible in the future because the remaining uninsured are harder to reach or less inclined to become insured,” the analysis said. “Future reductions will likely require significant outreach and expanded programs targeting those who have not yet taken advantage.”

    The survey period included the first two months of the health law's 2016 open enrollment season, which ends January 31. That covered the first big sign-up deadline, which was December 15 for those wanting coverage effective at the start of the year.

    Gallup-Healthways said it expects results for the first three months of 2016 to show another decline in the uninsured rate. How big remains to be seen.
     
    Intensifying the debate

    “A strong open enrollment period would allow the Obama administration to go out on a high note,” said Larry Levitt, who follows the health overhaul for the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. “Weak enrollment could intensify the debate over the Affordable Care Act, particularly as the general election approaches,” he said.

    There will continue to be close scrutiny of the uninsured numbers and reports of premium increases for 2017, which will start to trickle out this summer,” added Levitt. “I believe the health law has crossed the threshold of sustainability, but its future success depends on growing enrollment.”

    The uninsured rate for adults stood at 17.1 percent in the last three months of 2013, as the law's major coverage expansion got underway, according to the survey. The drop of 5.2 percentage points by the end of last year translates to nearly 13 million adults gaining coverage.
     
    But 2015 was a lackluster year. According to the survey, the uninsured rate dipped to 11.4 percent in the period from April-June, then edged up again the rest of the year. It was the first such reversal noted by the survey since the law's big coverage expansion began.
     
    The health law has added coverage in two major ways, bringing the nation's uninsured rate to a historic low. Online insurance markets like HealthCare.gov offer taxpayer-subsidized private plans to people who don't have coverage on the job. And states can opt for a Medicaid expansion aimed at low-income adults with no children living at home. That's happened in 30 states, plus Washington, D.C.
     
    Opposition to the law has blocked Medicaid expansion elsewhere. If major states like Texas, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia were to expand their programs, the uninsured rate would start coming down again. Louisiana and Alabama are considering Medicaid expansion.
     
    Minorities biggest beneficiaries

    Since 2013, the Gallup-Healthways survey has found gains in health insurance coverage among all major demographic groups except seniors, who were already covered by Medicare. The biggest progress has come among low-income people, Hispanics, and African Americans.

    The Obama administration had no direct response to the survey findings. Spokesman Aaron Albright noted that the law “has led to millions of Americans getting access to quality and affordable health coverage.”

    The survey results were based on landline and cellphone interviews conducted from October 1 to December 31 with a random sample of 42,998 adults ages 18 and older. For results based on the total sample, the margin of sampling error is plus or minus 1 percentage point.

    You May Like

    Video Obama Remembers Fallen Troops for Memorial Day

    President urges Americans this holiday weekend to 'take a moment and offer a silent word of prayer or public word of thanks' to country's veterans

    Upsurge of Migratory Traffic Across Sahara From West to North Africa

    A report by the International Organization for Migration finds more than 60,000 migrants have transited through the Agadez region of Niger between February and April

    UN Blocks Access to Journalist Advocacy Group

    United Nations has rejected bid from nonprofit journalist advocacy group that wanted 'consultative status,' ranking that would have given them greater access to UN meetings

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora