Red States Gained the Most from Obamacare

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We have known for months now that about 10 million people gained health care coverage this year because of the Affordable Care Act. Now we also have the data on who the newly insured are, thanks to Enroll America and Civis Analytics.

It turns out the states that take the most pleasure in trying to repeal and otherwise undermine Obamacare are the ones who actually gained the most from the law. According to the New York Times, “Despite many Republican voters’ disdain for the Affordable Care Act, the parts of the country that lean the most heavily Republican (according to 2012 presidential election results) showed significantly more insurance gains than places where voters lean strongly Democratic.”

Aside from red states, the groups that have benefited the most are young people between the ages of 18 and 34, women, African Americans, Hispanics and people living in rural areas – the groups who are usually worse off on just about every indicator. Unsurprisingly, the ACA has also especially helped low-income people. According to the New York Times, “People with the lowest incomes tended to benefit the most from the law… In states that expanded Medicaid, low-income people can get insurance without having to pay a premium. And for middle-income people who qualify for tax credits to help them buy insurance, the subsidies are most generous for those lowest on the income scale. Poorer people were always the least likely to have insurance because their jobs rarely offered it and private premiums were often unaffordable.”

Even though the ACA has been undeniably effective at delivering health insurance to many of those who need it most, it fell far short of its potential because of Republican obstructionism. Millions more could have been insured in the states like Texas that passed on expanding Medicaid. For instance, in Starr County along the U.S.-Mexico border, the insured rate increased by 14 percentage points because of Obamacare. But a staggering one in four people are still uninsured. Many of the uninsured in Starr County – and around Texas – still won’t be able to get health insurance in 2015 because they make too much to qualify for Medicaid, too little to qualify for subsidies in the federal healthcare marketplace, and too little to afford insurance on their own.

In keeping with tradition, Republicans are still determined to repeal the ACA in the next Congress. They may face a bit more of uphill battle this time around though, despite the fact that they now control both chambers of Congress. One of the ironic benefits of so many Democrats losing in the 2014 midterm elections is that only two of the ten Democrats who have joined Republicans to try to repeal the law remain. If Republicans want to continue to try to make Obamacare repeal a bipartisan effort, they may be hard pressed.

But despite Republicans’ best efforts, open enrollment for the federal marketplace begins again on Saturday, November 15. It will be a shorter open enrollment window than the last, and will end on February 15, 2015. In the last open enrollment period, over 730,000 Texans gained coverage, but there are still over 5 million uninsured in our state alone.

Texas has already gained more health care coverage than most states. But it could gain so much more in the next few months.


About Author

Emily Cadik

Emily is a Texas ex-pat and proud Longhorn living in Washington, DC, where she remains connected to the Lone Star State through her work on BOR and her enthusiasm for breakfast tacos. She works on affordable housing policy, and writes about health care, poverty and other social justice issues.

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