No matter what you think of Obamacare, here's the 1 thing it got absolutely right.

No matter what your politics are, here's some good news!

Do you currently have health insurance? Now, more than ever, the answer is likely to be "yes."

Gallup recently released its quarterly Well-Being Index numbers, and when it comes to insurance, the numbers are looking better than ever.


The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed into law more than five years ago, and, to put it generously, it's still controversial.

The law has faced (and survived) two Supreme Court challenges. Members of Congress have voted to defund and/or repeal the law more than 50 times. And it remains one of those topics that's probably best not to bring up at the Thanksgiving Day dinner table.



The road here has been a wild one. It must also have been a gold mine for people who make poster boards and markers. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.

But let's sidestep the rhetoric for a bit and look at the results.

It certainly seems like the ACA is here to stay, especially after it was upheld again just a few weeks ago. So it's worth seeing if the Act is, you know, actually helping people.

In late 2013, just before one of the key provisions of the law was to take effect, there were more uninsured Americans than ever before.

In the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index for the fourth quarter of 2013, 17.1% of U.S. adults surveyed had no form of health insurance.

So in 2014, when the key provisions of the law kicked into full effect, it seemed like the moment of truth was finally here. Finally, we'd have the answer to one of the key questions of President Obama's presidency: Will this law actually reduce the number of uninsured Americans?

Now there's good news. Ever since 2014, Gallup has observed a downward trend in uninsured rates.

By the end of the first quarter of 2014, rates dropped below 17%; by the second quarter of 2014, only 15.6% of Americans were without insurance. And by the end of 2015's first quarter, the rate of uninsured Americans was at 11.9%.

Then came the latest numbers, released just after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of key provisions in the law for the second time: 11.4% of Americans are now uninsured, a new record low.

That means that 88.6% of Americans have health insurance coverage now, which is an incredible increase.


The new uninsured rates are pretty impressive. Thanks, Obama. Image via Thinkstock.

Even better, the most improvements were seen in groups with historically high uninsured rates: low-income individuals and people of color.

Between the end of 2013 and the second quarter of 2015, Gallup shows, the uninsured rate for black Americans dropped from 20.9% to 12%; Hispanic people saw their rate drop from 38.7% to 29.1%.

On the whole, uninsured numbers decreased across all ages, races, and income levels.

And with that, the question of whether or not the ACA is helping those most in need has been answered, and it's a resounding "yes."

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Image.

By making health care more accessible, we're also seeing major on-the-ground improvements.

Those big numbers are one thing. But the millions of people who have seen their insurance situations improve during the past few years are the evidence of true improvements.

They're people like freelancer Andrew Stryker, who told the Washington Post that the ACA helped cut his premiums in half.

And they're people like this employee, who commented on Addicting Info about the struggle to afford insurance on their own.

"I lost my job in 2013 and was offered COBRA at $450 plus per month which I cannot afford on unemployment. I have epilepsy, a pre-existing condition, and was rejected when I shopped for private insurance. Thankfully, the ACA took effect and I now have affordable insurance with the cost based on my low income on unemployment. Without the ACA, I would be left without health insurance leaving me vulnerable to losing the home I worked to pay for over the last 30 years. ... The [ACA] is the best thing that happened to the American people in a very long time. Unfortunately, too many of them don't know it yet, but they will over time."

Politics aside, we're learning an important lesson.

Lives have been changed for the better as a result of expanded insurance access. Let's keep focusing on that priority.

More
LUSH

Handmade cosmetics company Lush is putting its money where its mouth is and taking a bold step for climate change action.

On September 20 in the U.S. and September 27 in Canada, Lush will shut the doors of its 250 shops, e-commerce sites, manufacturing facilities, and headquarters for a day, in solidarity with the Global Climate Strike taking place around the world. Lush is encouraging its 5000+ employees "to join this critical movement and take a stand until global leaders are forced to face the climate crisis and enact change."

Keep Reading Show less
Planet
Photo by Annie Bolin on Unsplash

Recent tragic mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton have sparked a lot of conversation and action on the state level over the issue of gun control. But none may be as encouraging as the most recent one, in which 145 CEOs signed a letter urging the U.S. Senate to take action at their level.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

The fine folks at Forbes are currently falling all over themselves trying to clean up the mess they created by publishing their 2019 list of 100 Most Innovative Leaders.

The problem: The list included 99 men and one woman. For those not so good with the math, that means according to Forbes, only 1% of the country's most innovative leaders are female.

Have you ever watched a movie that's so abysmally bad that you wonder how it ever even got made? Where you think, "Hundreds and hundreds of people had to have been directly involved in the production of this film. Did any of them ever think to say, 'Hey, maybe we should just scrap this idea altogether?"

That's how it feels to see a list like this. So how did Forbes come up with these results?

Keep Reading Show less
Innovation

There's something delicious and addicting about those trendy recipe videos circulating online. You've seen them before: the quick and beautiful play-by-plays of mouthwatering dishes you wish you were eating at this very moment.

The recipes seem so simple and magical and get you thinking, "Maybe I can make that five-cheese bacon lasagna tonight." And before you know it, you're at the store loading up on Colby-Monterey Jack (or is that just me?).

For some families, though, the ingredients and final product look a little different. As part of Hunger Action Month, the hunger-relief organization Feeding America is using our obsession with cooking videos to highlight the reality many food-insecure families face when they sit down for dinner: hunger, and no food in sight.

By putting a twist on the bite-sized food videos all over the internet, they hope to raise awareness that hunger is an unacceptable reality for too many families.

Keep Reading Show less
Family
True
Gates Foundation: The Story of Food