31 Million Still to Be Uninsured Under Obamacare

Image: 31 Million Still to Be Uninsured Under Obamacare

Monday, 09 Sep 2013 08:59 AM

By Melanie Batley

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An estimated 31 million people will remain without health insurance until at least 2023 despite Obamacare's promise that nearly all Americans would have universal health insurance coverage starting in January.

According to The Washington Post, the Affordable Care Act will extend coverage to 25 million uninsured people over the next 10 years. But government figures show that at least 31 million poor people and undocumented workers in the 21 states refusing to expand Medicaid under Obamacare would continue to be without coverage during that 10-year period, the time that it would take to fully implement the landmark healthcare-reform law.

"The law will cut the number of the uninsured in half," Matthew Buettgens of the Urban Institute told the Post. "This is an important development, but it certainly isn't the definition of universal."

Many of the country's 1,000 free clinics now serve the uninsured, and it is expected they will continue to struggle with heavy caseloads. Nevertheless, many clinics have begun looking at ways to step up their services, mainly for those who can't qualify for Medicaid and for the undocumented workers who will be unable to buy insurance under Obamacare's new online insurance exchanges or marketplaces.

"Most of our members would love to go out of business and close their doors if there was a program that ended uninsurance," Nicole Lamoureaux Busby, executive director of the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics, told the Post. "But this isn't universal healthcare. We're not planning to see a dramatic decrease in our patients."

The clinics are mostly financed by private donations, but there is a concern that the money could dry up if donors believe Obamacare is providing universal coverage.

"So many listen to the news and hear a 24-second sound bite that says everyone is getting coverage. The donors may think we don't need their funds," Busby said.

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