WashU Expert: Census Bureau report shows effectiveness of Affordable Care Act

The number of uninsured people in the United States dropped by 8.8 million in 2014, according to a report released Sept. 16 from the U.S. Census Bureau.

This number is significant because it is the first Census Bureau report since the widespread implementation of the Affordable Care Act, said a health economist at Washington University in St. Louis.


“This is the largest one-year change in the number of uninsured Americans that we have seen since numbers started being collected,” said Timothy McBride, PhD, professor at the Brown School and noted health policy analyst. “This is a big deal.”

In its annual report on income, poverty and health insurance coverage, the Census Bureau said that the percentage of people without insurance was 10.4 percent last year, down from 13.3 percent in 2013.

Bureau officials said much of the change was attributable to changes made by the Affordable Care Act.

However, the survey accounts for only the changes in 2014, the first year of implementation of Obamacare. “Undoubtedly, there will be a further reduction in the uninsured once we see numbers for 2015,” McBride said.

The drop is bigger in states that have chosen to expand Medicaid than in those which have not, McBride said. He said that in Missouri, for example, which has not expanded Medicaid coverage, the number of uninsured dropped by only 79,000.

“While we certainly have a ways to go, this report indicates that Obamacare is working and is having a positive impact on the number of uninsured in America, as well as our overall economy,” McBride said.