More than 46 million people in the United States do not have health insurance. As a result, millions are forgoing or delaying necessary medical care, jeopardizing their health and economic security. Racial and ethnic minorities are more likely to be uninsured and more likely to experience disparities in access and quality. The vast majority of the uninsured are in working families. In addition, millions of individuals who have health insurance still struggle to pay for the cost of care.
Three federal government programs provide health insurance for the public: Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Medicare provides basic health insurance benefits more than 48 million seniors and adults with permanent disabilities. Medicaid is the largest provides benefits to 58 million low-income people in the United States and millions more will qualify for Medicaid in 2014 when the provisions of the Affordable Care Act come into effect. The CHIP program provides health insurance to children in families whose incomes are too high to qualify for Medicaid, but too low to afford private coverage.
The Affordable Care Act builds on and improves our current health care system, while strengthening Medicare and expanding Medicaid. When fully implemented, the Affordable Care Act will provide a path to coverage for millions of currently uninsured Americans, either through a public program, employer-sponsored insurance, or a new group insurance pool. The Supreme Court has ruled that states have the option (rather than a requirement) to expand eligibility for the Medicaid program to individuals living at up to 133 percent of federal poverty ($25,390 for a family of 3). This has the potential of expanding health coverage to roughly 17 million low-income, uninsured people. In addition, the Affordable Care Act puts new rules on insurance companies to protect consumers. The law also provides new benefits to Medicare beneficiaries and strengthens the Medicare trust fund.
For more information on this issue, visit CHN’s Public Policy Priorities, 2013-2014.
Policy Analyses and Research
- April 23, 2014Urban Institute and CLASP: The Affordable Care Act and Youth Aging Out of Foster Care: New Opportunities and Strategies for Action
- February 18, 2014Half in Ten Report 2014 — Poverty and Opportunity Profile: Millennials