So many of us believe that military veterans deserve much more than simply recognition for their service and sacrifice. To that end, a new study by the Urban Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation suggests that more veterans are now getting the very thing they provided during their years of service…..protection. The number of uninsured veterans in the U.S. declined by nearly 40% from 2013 to 2015.
The uninsured rate among veterans under age 65 dropped to 5.9% in 2015, down from 9.6% two years earlier, according to the report. The number of vets lacking coverage fell to 552,000, down from 980,000.
The changes started in 2014, when two major Obamacare coverage provisions kicked in. That’s when Medicaid expansion took effect and the Obamacare exchanges opened. Most uninsured veterans had incomes that would make them eligible either for Obamacare subsidies or Medicaid.
According to ModernHealthcare.com, “that number could drop even more if more states opt to expand Medicaid.”
Medicaid expansion has been a hot-button issue amid efforts to repeal the ACA. Nineteen states have chosen not to expand Medicaid. But there has been renewed pushes in state legislatures to expand coverage after federal lawmakers failed to repeal the ACA in March, in part due to moderate Republicans’ desire to preserve the expansions.
“The evidence suggests that the ACA, particularly Medicaid expansion, helped (veterans). Absent similar provisions, coverage levels for veterans are likely to deteriorate,” said Jenny Haley, co-author of the study and research associate for the Urban Institute’s Health Policy Center.
National Public Radio (NPR) added, “One in 5 uninsured vets live in states that did not expand Medicaid and would have been eligible for coverage had their state chosen to expand the program, the report found. “If states would adopt the expansion, more vets would qualify for publicly supported coverage,” (co-author Jenny Haley said).” Arizona is one of the state’s that welcomed Medicaid expansion.
Becker’s Hospital Review recapped the study’s key findings.
- The uninsured rate among veterans fell nearly 40 percent, from 9.6 percent in 2013 to 5.9 percent in 2015.
- The total number of uninsured veterans fell from 980,000 in 2013 to 552,000 in 2015.
- Researchers said the uninsured rate also fell among veterans’ spouses between 2013 and 2015, from 9.2 percent to 5.5 percent, and among veterans’ children, from 4.5 percent to 2.9 percent.
- In the same time period, the uninsured rate among veterans fell by a statistically significant margin in all but three Medicaid expansion states. For the purposes of the study, Medicaid expansion states included the 29 states, plus the District of Columbia, that expanded Medicaid as of mid-2015.
- In 2013, the uninsured rate among veterans in the 30 Medicaid expansion areas ranged from 3.9 percent in Massachusetts to 14.8 percent in Arkansas, according to the study. In 2015, that rate was below 10 percent in every Medicaid expansion areas studied.
Share your thoughts on the study and what Medicaid expansion has meant to veterans in our state. As talk of a new healthcare plan to replace Obamacare continues, do you think legislators need to make sure veterans do not lose what they have gained over the past few years? Working together with our partners to find solutions to the healthcare issues facing Arizonans is another way we are working toward our long-term goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!