By Joe Cotter, EI blogger

For all of the criticism (some fair) and misinformation surrounding the Affordable Care Act, it appears that early returns have been positive. The system seems to have improved since its rollout and is beginning to fulfill its promise of significantly reducing the number of uninsured Americans.  The Urban Institute and AARP have released the results of a study examining how the ACA is affecting 50-64 year-olds and the findings have been encouraging. This report, “Fewer Americans Ages 50–64 Have Difficulty Paying Family Medical Bills after Early ACA Marketplace Implementation,” has revealed the following:

  • The uninsured rate for adults age 50-64 has dropped 47.5% since 2013 and was lowest in states that chose to expand their Medicaid programs.
  • More individuals aged 50-64 report having a usual source of care other than the emergency room and fewer report having trouble accessing care, compared to 2013.
  • Individuals in that same age bracket reported having fewer unmet needs due to cost, less difficulty paying medical bills, and less difficulty getting an appointment.

This is not to say that there isn’t more work to be done.  For all of the gains made by this particular age bracket, the study also indicates that individuals who are low income, Hispanic, or in fair or poor health still have disproportionately high rates of being uninsured and having difficulty accessing healthcare services.

The complete report from the Urban Institute and AARP Public Policy Institute is available here.