U.S. health officials said the number of uninsured people in the country has dramatically dropped since the introduction of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. But the numbers show some of the most vulnerable groups continue to live without health care. That trend, however, may be changing.
CCTV America’s Roee Ruttenberg explains.
Officials report major drop in uninsured since Affordable Care ActIn 2013, roughly one in five Americans had no health care coverage. The number is now about one in eight. CCTV America's Roee Ruttenberg reports.
Most of the patients coming to Washington, D.C.’s “Bread for the City” clinic are uninsured. The full-service facility has been helping the community for decades.
That’s how long 57-year-old Pam St. John has been coming here.
“I was struggling so bad because I got sick for like 10 days and my throat and my neck would move properly and I had to use my voice to talk as a telemarketer,” St. John said. “I had no insurance so then all the money I made in my job I had to take and pay the doctor with it.”
Three years ago, St. John became insured under an expanded government program. She’s not alone.
In 2013, roughly one in five Americans had no health care coverage. The number is now about one in eight.
A dramatic improvement, the Obama administration said, and proof the Affordable Care Act is working.
But critics said the program has cost too much and gained too little.
The Bread for the City’s medical director Dr. Randi Abramson said the issue goes beyond politics.
“If you don’t have access to care and you don’t have health insurance and you don’t have money, then what you do is just try and hope your health is good, or you have a symptom and you try and ignore it,” Abramson said. “Maybe the symptoms will just go away. And you wait until the symptom gets worse and worse, and then you come into a place like our clinic with more advanced disease.”
Statistically, one of the biggest drops has been in Washington, D.C. The nation’s capital now has the third lowest rate of uninsured people. The gains have been ever bigger among Latinos and African Americans.
Mila Kofman runs D.C.’s health benefit exchange. She said her teams have gone directly to those needing coverage.
“With health insurance here in the U.S., if you don’t have good health insurance or if you don’t have any health insurance at all, it’s the difference between living or dying, recovering quickly or not, getting good access to medical care, or not,” Kofman said. “So because of our success, we’ve enabled people who live and work in DC to have that financial stability that health coverage brings.”
For some, it’s better late than never.
“I knew that this was something they should’ve been talking about many many years ago,” St. John said. “Because we have so many people suffering and a lot of people died trying to find help and trying to find insurance.”
St. John is now certain she won’t be one of them.
Eleanor Clift on US’s Uninsured
For more information, CCTV America’s Mike Walter interviewed Eleanor Clift, political analyst of The Daily Beast, on U.S.’s Uninsured.