Uninsured Rate Continues to Drop

Here’s the progress that SCOTUS needs to consider before making its King v. Burwell decision (per a report from Gallup’s Jenna Levy:

The uninsured rate among U.S. adults declined to 11.9% for the first quarter of 2015 — down one percentage point from the previous quarter and 5.2 points since the end of 2013, just before the Affordable Care Act went into effect. The uninsured rate is the lowest since Gallup and Healthways began tracking it in 2008.

And that’s not all:

[T]he uninsured rate could drop further in the months ahead since the Obama administration established a special enrollment period for March 15 through April 30, aimed at signing up those who realize, while paying their taxes, that they must pay a fine for not obtaining healthcare coverage in 2014.

Some states that run their own exchanges, including Minnesota, Washington and Vermont, also announced special extensions through the end of tax season on April 15. These extended enrollment periods could further drive down the uninsured rate through May, when plans purchased in April go into effect.

Additionally, Medicaid enrollment is not bound by the open enrollment period, which could allow more uninsured to sign up this month — and throughout the year, if more states choose to expand Medicaid. So far, Arkansas and Kentucky have seen the most improvement in uninsured rates as a result of expanding Medicaid and using state-run marketplaces. Finally, the uninsured rate could vary based on underlying dynamics of the workforce and employment rates in the months ahead.

All the arrows are pointing in the same direction on health insurance right now, and it should be left to Republican politicians, not federal judges, to make the case that it doesn’t matter or isn’t enough or cannot be afforded.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.