Washingtonians Already Benefiting from Health Reform
When health reform goes into full effect in January 2014, an estimated 74 percent of people in Washington state who currently lack health insurance will gain access to affordable coverage(1). But recent census data shows that many are already benefiting.
In 2010, the Affordable Care Act extended coverage to young adults, allowing those up to age 26 to remain covered by their parents' plan, which is already having a big impact. There was a significant drop in the number of uninsured young adults between 2010 and 2012 (see graph). Interestingly, the biggest drop was among young men, who historically are more likely to go uninsured than young women.
In addition, over 50,000 Washingtonians formerly receiving coverage through the Disability Lifeline program and the Basic Health Plan, have benefited from an early expansion of Medicaid. That’s due to support from the federal government, which has been picking up half the costs of covering this population since 2011, and will pick up the full cost in 2014 (2).
This early expansion has provided great relief to the state’s cash-strapped budget, and has helped to mitigate the ongoing impact of the Great Recession, which left thousands of Washingtonians jobless and without health insurance.
These investments in public health insurance programs allowed people to acquire and hold onto health coverage in the wake of the recession- just when it was most needed.
1. “What’s at Stake. The Affordable Care Act in Washington State: A county-by-county analysis,” Office of the Insurance Commissioner, May 2012.
2. Medicaid expansion will be fully covered by the federal government for the first two years beginning in 2014 and gradually drop to a 90 percent match by 2020.