HEADLINES Published July31, 2015 By Bernadette Strong

Americans Say They Are Healthier and Have Better Healthcare

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The website for one of the health insurance exchanges created under the Affordable Care Act. Since the act more Americans say they are in better health.
(Photo : Joe Raedle, Getty Images)

Americans say they are in better health and have better healthcare two years after health insurance became available under the Affordable Care Act (ACA, also known as Obamacare). This finding is from a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

People said they had better insurance coverage, greater access to primary care and to prescription medicines, more affordable healthcare, and better overall health since late 2013. More than 500,000 people took part in the study, the 2012-2015 Gallup Healthways Well-Being Index. Before the ACA took effect surveys had shown that the trends for these factors had been going down.

The ACA created exchanges that sell subsidized health insurance to all individuals regardless of their health. About 15.8 million adults gained health insurance coverage under the law, according to the study. Other findings include that about 7 million adults were able to obtain a personal physician, about 4.8 million more adults can afford medicine, about 11 million more adults say healthcare is affordable and about 6.8 million more people consider themselves in excellent or very good health. The greatest improvements were seen among racial and ethnic minorities.

Another part of the study analyzed the expansion of Medicaid under the law. The study found that expanding Medicaid was linked to a reduction in the number of uninsured adults, fewer people without doctors, and fewer people reporting difficulty in getting medicine. About 30 states used federal funds offered by the ACA to expand Medicaid coverage to low-income individuals.

However, although the study found an association between the ACA and improved health and healthcare access, it did not say there was definitely a direct connection. The economy improved and unemployment went down, which may have played a part.  

The study can be read online at bit.ly/1D6VCG9.

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