Roosevelt Institute | Cornell University

The Future of the Uninsured

By Ossy OnumonuPublished September 30, 2013

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There were 48 million Americans without health insurance in 2012. This number may seem high, but it represents a slight improvement upon prior years. Americans who do not have access to employer-sponsored insurance will be able to enroll in state-based exchanges beginning on October 1st of this year, assuming the ACA is fully implemented.
By Ossy Onumonu, Published 9/30/2013

There were 48 million Americans without health insurance in 2012.  This number may seem high, but it represents a slight improvement upon prior years.  The percentage of uninsured Americans declined from 15.7% to 15.4% between 2011 and 2012 according to the Census Bureau.  This represents the first time in four years that the number of uninsured Americans has declined.  This is great news before a major component of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is scheduled to kick in.  Beginning in 2014, all Americans will be required to have health insurance, whether it be through their employer or the individual markets.  Americans who do not have access to employer-sponsored insurance will be able to enroll in state-based exchanges beginning on October 1st of this year.  If fully implemented, this is predicted to have a huge effect on the number of uninsured Americans in years to come.  According to the Congressional Budget Office, about 24 million people are expected to obtain insurance through these state-based exchanges by 2023. 

A small caveat, however, is this is all assuming that the ACA gets fully implemented in a timely manner, which seems unlikely given the high level of conservative opposition. House Speaker John Boehner said, "The law's a train wreck. It's time to protect American families from this unworkable law" (Opposing Views).  Many conservatives believe that the ACA will cause companies to lay off workers due to them not being able to afford health insurance for all of their employees.  This would lead to a higher unemployment rate, which would have obvious negative effects on the economy.    Boehner plans to allow Tea Party lawmakers to have a vote on whether to defund the ACA., which would likely result in a government shutdown.  Whether or not this law gets implemented in the coming months is still unknown.  The current hyperpolarization present in American politics would lead one to believe that America will never come to an agreement about how to amend the current healthcare system.  In my opinion, America should trust the statistics of the Congressional Budget Office and fully implement this law according to schedule.  If in a couple years it proves to not be efficient, then we should implement a new law that strengthens the weak points of the ACA.