More Americans are covered by insurance than they have been in a long time. According to a new Gallup poll, 16 percent of Americans are currently uninsured. This is the lowest uninsured number Gallup has recorded in the past five years.At Wonkblog, Sarah Kliff discusses whether the ACA is responsible for the drop. She notes that most of the newly insured came through the individual market and Medicaid, which suggests the ACA is playing a role. More:
We don’t know quite yet whether these numbers are a result of the Affordable Care Act, but they are the trends you’d expect to see in insurance markets when the individual market and Medicaid expand. The Gallup poll has shown dips in the uninsured rate before, and it will take a few more months to get a sense of whether the lower rate recorded this month is here to stay.
This story pairs well with a second enrollment story in the news. According to the Obama Administration, 1.2 million people signed up for insurance in January. If those numbers are accurate, it marks the first month that enrollments have actually beaten expectations. Better yet, the proportion of younger people getting coverage went up. A better mix of young and old enrollees is essential to the long-term sustainability of the law.Taking these two stories together, you would be tempted to say the ACA is finally getting some unequivocal good news.But things aren’t that simple. We tend to be skeptical about these numbers largely because it’s unclear whether the increased Medicaid enrollment we’ve seen is in fact attributable to the ACA. The last numbers the administration released were inflated in several key ways, so the progress here might ultimately be less impressive than the decontextualized figures suggest.Still, one of the hallmarks of the ACA debate thus far has been that perception is more important than reality. That fact has often helped the critics of the law. Perhaps this time it will help its supporters.