Uninsured Rate Could Fall by Half, Study Says

Forty-five million Americans lacked health coverage in 2012, but that number could fall to 23 million by 2023, if the agency's predictions hold true. The study was published in the September edition of Health Affairs.

The number of uninsured Americans is expected to continue to drop, according to a newly released study from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Forty-five million Americans lacked health coverage in 2012, but that number could fall to 23 million by 2023, if the agency’s predictions hold true. The study was published in the September edition of Health Affairs.

“Healthcare costs are increasing at a slower rate thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA),” CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner, said in a press release. “The dramatic decrease in the number of uninsured Americans is a win for our country and its economy in the future.”

Most of that growth will come by the end of 2015. About 9 million Americans are expected to join the ranks of the insured in 2014 alone, according to the study. Those include persons newly eligible for Medicaid, as well as people who have purchased their own insurance policies via government-run health insurance marketplaces. Another 8 million uninsured Americans are projected to get insurance by the end of 2015.

Those data are in line with other newly released information suggesting the ACA has succeeded in decreasing the uninsured population. Rice University and the Episcopal Health Foundation this week released a survey showing 378,000 uninsured Texans signed up for coverage between September 2013 and June 2014, despite the fact that Texas has thus far opted against expanding Medicaid eligibility.

While Texas’ uninsured rate dropped by 2%, states that expanded Medicaid saw drops of roughly 6% during the first enrollment period, researchers said.

Despite the overall trend, CMS report notes that some workers, particularly those at low-wage jobs, are likely to lose employer-sponsored healthcare within the next 2 years. Those workers may qualify for Medicaid or purchase on the exchange, but the study suggests some will likely remain uninsured.

All those new Medicaid enrollees will result in the federal government playing an increasing role in paying for the nation’s healthcare. That’s especially true because the federal government has agreed to pay 100% of the costs of newly eligible Medicaid enrollees for the first 3 years.

The federal government is expected to pay 28% of the nation’s $3 trillion total healthcare bill in 2014, a proportion slated to increase to 31% by 2023. Add in state and local governments, and government agencies altogether will account for 46% of total healthcare spending this year, about $1.4 trillion. By 2023, government agencies combined will pay 48% of US healthcare expenditures.