Good Economic Results Include More Health Care Coverage

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Chart from Kevin Drum at Mother Jones

Thanks to James Hohmann of the WaPo’s Daily 202 for the following nice summary of recent economic good news from the Census Bureau.  That’s a long list of things we have done right and need to keep doing right to continue the improvement so it reaches us all.

Among the many positive indicators below please notice that Obamacare led to 4 million ADDITIONAL Americans gaining health coverage in 2015.  In a longer piece on the view that is beginning to unfold of Obama’s “transformational success,” Jonathan Chait says this about Obamacare:

Obamacare is an achievement with a scale that has only begun to dawn on the president’s supporters, let alone the country as a whole. The law has decreased the uninsured population by 20 million so far. It has introduced systemic reforms into the medical economy that have begun bending the cost curve downward. (To take the most easily traceable example, by giving hospitals an incentive to avoid unnecessary and costly patient readmissions, the readmission rate has immediately dropped, saving both money and needless death.) The government is not only spending less money on health care than it was projected to spend after Obamacare was passed, but it is spending less than it was projected before the law was passed.

And of course, lest we forget, Hillary Clinton wants to build on this legacy of success (“Defend and expand the Affordable Care Act, which covers 20 million people.”).  Donald Trump calls it a disaster and promises its repeal (“On day one of the Trump Administration, we will ask Congress to immediately deliver a full repeal of Obamacare.”).


Here’s Hohmann’s summary:

THE BIG IDEA: 

— An annual report from the Census Bureau includes a raft of positive economic data:

  • In 2015, middle-class families got their biggest pay raises in 50 years. Median household income rose 5.2 percent when adjusted for inflation.
  • There were 3.5 million fewer Americans living in poverty last year than the year before, a 1.2 percent decline, the steepest since 1968.
  • Another 4 million gained health insurance in 2015, decreasing the nation’s uninsured rate to 9.1 percent, the lowest level since before the Great Recession.
  • The gender pay gap is at a record low, though women still make an unacceptable 80 cents for every dollar men earn.

— Other indicators also demonstrate meaningful progress:

  • The unemployment rate has declined to 4.9 percent. That’s half of what it was at this point seven years ago.
  • The markets have had a couple rough days, but all three major stock indexes hit record highs last month.
  • The University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index is near its pre-recession high.
  • Net private business investment had recovered to pre-recession levels.
  • The Agriculture Department last week released a data set showing that the number of Americans who go to sleep hungry declined substantially last year for the first time since the recession.
  • Home foreclosures continue to drop off markedly.
  • A glut of oil on the global market means gasoline is cheap and will continue to be into 2017.