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The impact of 'Obamacare' on Oklahoma's uninsured population

by Jaclyn Cosgrove Published: January 8, 2014

It’s Jan. 8, many functions of the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare,” are in full swing, and the world didn’t end.

Now what?

For one, there’s a question about how the Affordable Care Act will affect uninsured Oklahomans.

In Oklahoma, 144,000 uninsured adults — an estimated 23 percent of the uninsured in the state — who would have been eligible for Medicaid if the state expanded the program fall into what’s known as a coverage gap, according to a report released from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

How was that gap created?

Under the Affordable Care Act, people who earn an income  between 100 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level might qualify for tax credits when they buy private health insurance through the federal health insurance marketplace.

Meaning — if you earn a certain amount, you might qualify for a tax credit that will discount how much you pay for private insurance you buy on

However, if you are an adult who earns a wage that’s less than the starting point for the subsidies (i.e. 100 percent of the federal poverty level), you likely don’t qualify for a subsidy.

That’s because the Affordable Care Act originally required states to expand who was eligible for their Medicaid programs. Under an expansion, people who made less than 100 percent of the federal poverty level would have qualified for Medicaid.

But then the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states have an option of whether they will expand Medicaid. Oklahoma, among several other states, decided that it wouldn’t expand Medicaid, and boom, a coverage gap was created.

Here’s a chart that the Kaiser folks created that helps visualize the coverage gap among uninsured adults in Oklahoma:

Additionally, as Kaiser points out:

These adults are all below the poverty line and thus have very limited incomes.  Because they do not gain an affordable coverage option under the (Affordable Care Act), they are most likely to remain uninsured.

You can read the full Kaiser report here.

by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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