Just in time for this week’s commemoration of Veteran Day, new data from the National Health Interview Survey shows good news for veterans in the United States: The number of non-elderly veterans without health insurance has declined from 12 percent in 2013 to 8.6 percent in 2014. The data indicates that, after the implementation of major coverage provisions in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the insurance gains for non-elderly veterans are in sync with positive overall trends as more Americans across the country become insured.
Until now, there has been no published analysis of how whether veterans are seeing coverage gains under the Obama administration, but the latest numbers provide a snapshot. As of 2010, the Urban Institute found that 1.3 million (or 1 in 10) non-elderly veterans were uninsured and didn’t use Veterans Affairs coverage, and an additional 0.9 million adults and children in veterans’ families are uninsured. Those numbers have since decreased:
Even with the latest improvement, however, one in 11 veterans still reported they were uninsured last year. The Urban Institute also noted that with continued implementation of the ACA — especially in states that have resisted expanding their Medicaid programs — there is potential to further reduce the number of veterans who lack coverage.
The ACA, widely known as “Obamacare,” has significantly reduced the number of low-income Americans going without health insurance, according to federal data released earlier this year. Health insurance coverage varies from state to state depending if political leaders agreed to expand their Medicaid programs under the ACA, thanks to a 2012 Supreme Court decision allowing Medicaid expansion to be optional. Previous data suggests that more than 3 million people would have health insurance if each state accepted expansion — which is how the health law was originally intended to function.
Within the five years Obama signed the ACA in to law, about 16.4 previously uninsured Americans have received coverage under the law, while costing the government less than originally predicted.
Jess Colarossi is an intern at ThinkProgress.