Uninsured Rate Drops To Lowest Level In U.S. History

| by Nik Bonopartis
Nursing studentsNursing students

Proponents of Obamacare are claiming victory after a new report showed the percentage of uninsured Americans is the lowest in the nation's history.

Only 9.1 percent of Americans were without health insurance in 2015, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control released on May 17. That's a 2.4 percent drop from 2014, and a six percent drop from 2011, when 15.1 percent of Americans were without healthcare coverage, according to the CDC.

"The report documents the progress we've made expanding coverage across the country," said Sylvia Burwell, secretary of health and human services, according to CNBC. "Meanwhile, premiums for employer coverage, Medicare spending and health-care prices have risen at exceptionally slow rates. Our country ought to be proud of how far we've come and where we're going."

Administration officials cited three main factors leading to the drop in the rate of uninsured Americans. First was the full roll-out of Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act, which began in earnest in 2014. They also credited part of the Affordable Care Act that allowed young adults to remain on their parents' healthcare plans until 26 years old, and expanded Medicaid benefits that have provided coverage to poor adults who might not have had health insurance otherwise.

A May 18 editorial in the Baltimore Sun lauded President Barack Obama and the Affordable Care Act, arguing that it's been a net positive for the country despite its flaws:

Whatever faults Obamacare may have — and it's been no panacea for the shortcomings of health care in this country — even its harshest critics must recognize those 16 million to 17 million people (depending on whose estimates one uses) who have received a literal lifeline from health care reform," the op-ed reads. "Not only does a lack of insurance worsen and shorten lives, it puts millions of working families at risk of financial ruin — as anyone who has suffered a major illness while not having the benefit of insurance can attest.

Some observers pointed out that Republicans will likely have to adjust their attacks on Democrats in national and local races, as the Affordable Care Act's success makes it more difficult to hit the party on healthcare reform. One of the ways the presumptive Republican nominee has assured party leaders he's on the same page is by vowing to repeal Obamacare, and Republicans have been critical of the cost to taxpayers as well as individuals due to rising premiums.

The CDC study's release didn't stop some Republicans from reasserting their opposition to Obamacare.

"It's past time Dems wake up to reality that #Obamacare is a failure - I won't stop fighting to repeal & replace it," Sen. John McCain of Arizona tweeted on May 18.

MSNBC's Steve Benen contrasted statements from Republicans critical of the Affordable Care Act -- like New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg saying the uninsured rate "has not plummeted" -- with the historical context of health insurance coverage in the country.

"When was the last time more than 90% of Americans had health insurance?" Benen wrote. "Never. As long as officials have kept track of coverage totals, we’ve never seen figures as encouraging as these."

Sources: CNBC, Baltimore Sun, MSNBC, John McCain/Twitter / Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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