(Bloomberg Business) — Nearly 17 million Americans gained health insurance in the first 18 months of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), according to new estimates from RAND Corp. that show far more people got insurance coverage than lost it since the most important provisions of PPACA took effect.
The research group’s number is consistent with earlier estimates and adds to the evidence that the law helped dramatically cut the number of Americans without health insurance. The RAND report comes a day after Republican senators adopted a budget plan that paves the way for an attempt to repeal PPACA and as the Supreme Court considers whether to strike down a crucial piece of the law.
According to the study, people got insurance not just from the new PPACA marketplaces but from expanded state Medicaid programs and employer coverage as well.
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Employer health plans added about 8 million people to their rolls in a period when they added about 4.4 million jobs, according to seasonally adjusted data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The RAND study, published today in the journal Health Affairs, measures changes in insurance coverage for adults under 65 between September 2013, right before HealthCare.gov opened, and February 2015, when the window to enroll in PPACA for this year closed. The net increase of 16.9 million newly insured takes into account people who gained coverage and those who lost it. Most people were unaffected: 80 percent reported no change to their insurance coverage.
The report is based on a survey with a relatively small sample—about 1,589 people who responded both in 2013 and 2015, so the numbers should be considered rough estimates rather than precise measurements. But because researchers queried the same people 18 months apart, they got a detailed look at how insurance coverage shifted in that period.