Last week, the U.S. Census Bureau released its report on health insurance in the United States in 2014. That report showed that nearly 9 million people gained health insurance in 2014. This is by far the largest single year reduction in the uninsured since the Census began collecting data on insurance status in 1987. Generally, states that expanded Medicaid in 2014 saw the greatest drop in the number of residents without health insurance.
In most states, the health care sector is among the industry sectors with the largest employment. Health care jobs tend to pay more than a state’s median wages, and growth in this sector can have a positive economic effect on other areas of a state’s economy. Many organizations, ours included, have written about the effects of Medicaid expansion on a state’s economy. Recently, Missouri (a state that has not yet expanded Medicaid) compared its employment growth in the health care sector to that of select Medicaid expansion states.
As legislative sessions nationwide come to an end, a look at this map shows that every New England state has voted to expand Medicaid, extending health coverage to thousands of its low-income residents.
Except one: Maine.
Under the Affordable Care Act, no American can be denied coverage, charged a higher monthly premium, or sold a policy that excludes coverage of important health services just because he or she has a pre-existing condition. This is called pre-existing condition discrimination, and without the provisions in the Affordable Care Act that prohibit this, a lot of Americans would be affected.
In the weeks following the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act, much of the attention surrounding the law has focused on the expansion of Medicaid. The Court made the expansion optional, and many conservative governors quickly stated their resistance to adopting the Medicaid expansion. Why, though?
It has always seemed backward that those who need insurance the most—people who are already sick—are turned down for coverage or forced to pay higher premiums. Thanks to the new health law, insurers will no longer be able to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions by charging them higher premiums or denying them coverage. A recent Families USA report, Worry No More: Americans with Pre-Existing Conditions Are Protected by the Health Care Law, shows just how many people across the nation stand to gain from this portion of the health law.
Do you have a pre-existing condition? Do you know someone that does? I bet you do-64.8 million Americans under the age of 64 have been diagnosed with a pre-existing condition. Whether it's diabetes, or cancer-all of these conditions and more are considered "pre-existing" by insurance companies and are grounds for charging higher premiums, excluding coverage for your condition, or downright denying you health coverage.
For millions of Americans, having health coverage can be the difference between life and death. The uninsured are less likely to have a usual source of medical care, and, as a result, are more likely to forgo preventive care or delay treating an illness. Without access to preventive screenings and care, many uninsured Americans suffer premature and preventable deaths-they are literally dying for coverage.
This week, the Kaiser Family Foundation released a new state-by-state analysis showing that the federal government will assume all but a very small percentage of the cost to expand Medicaid, dramatically reducing the number of uninsured Americans at a bare minimal cost to the states.