Study: Affordable Care Act Having a Positive Impact on Americans’ Health

August 5, 2015 DATAMARK

A Harvard University health economist has sorted through the data and has uncovered a number of positive outcomes resulting from the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

In the July 28 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, lead researcher Dr. Benjamin Sommers of the T.H. Chan School of Public Health reports that minority groups have made significant progress toward closing the gaps of racial disparities in healthcare coverage. Additionally, those suffering from chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer are reporting significant improvements in their health as well as a reduction in health-related issues affecting daily activities.

Driving the transformation is the sheer number of people who now have access to health insurance. Sommers told HealthDay News that nearly 16 million adult Americans gained health coverage since over the first two open-enrollment periods of the ACA. It’s a reduction of nearly 8 percent of the number of previously uninsured, he said.

“Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act five years ago, we’ve seen the largest reduction of the uninsured rate in four decades,” said Sommers in an interview with HealthDay News.

The Harvard researchers analyzed data from the 2012-2015 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index to reach their conclusions. They found that minority groups have benefited greatly from the ACA, with nearly twice as many Hispanics and blacks, compared to whites, reporting that they were no longer uninsured.

Other findings from the Harvard study include:

• 7 million more adults have a personal physician, an improvement of 3.5 percent.
• 5 million more adults have easier access to medicine, an improvement of more than 2 percent.
• 11 million more adults say they can afford healthcare for their family, an improvement of 5.5 percent.

As many formerly uninsured Americans reap the benefits of healthcare coverage, they also will have to endure some pain in the pocketbook, as insurers begin to adjust their premiums based on their experiences over the past two ACA enrollment periods.
Many insurers have requested double-digit premium increases from state regulators, CBS MoneyWatch reports. With new data in hand, insurers say newly enrolled customers are sicker than they had anticipated. Also driving premium increases is the rising cost of medicine.

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