UCLA-UC Berkeley Report Indicates Potential Increase in Uninsured Due to ACA Changes

This week, researchers at UCLA and UC Berkeley released a new study that projects hundreds of thousands more Californians could become uninsured due to federal changes to the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) individual mandate penalty. Recall, the ACA’s individual insurance coverage mandate tax penalty will be repealed beginning in 2019 as part of the sweeping tax reform measure passed by Congress and signed into law by President Donald Trump last December.

The UCLA-UC Berkeley study utilizes the California Simulation of Insurance Markets (CalSIM) model to determine how may Californians would become uninsured in 2020 and 2023. Researchers determine that without further policy action, the uninsured rate in California could grow between 150,000 to 400,000 people for a total uninsured rate of approximately 11.7 percent in 2020 (approx. 4.0 million people total). By 2023, the uninsured rate could grow between 490,000 and 790,000 people for a total uninsured rate of approximately 12.9 percent (approx. 4.4 million people total). The most substantial enrollment changes are expected to occur in the individual market where enrollment is projected to decline by 10.1 percent in 2020 and 14.4 percent in 2023. These estimates include undocumented Californians who only have restricted-scope Medi-Cal.

Researchers suggest state-based policies that could help California protect the progress made under the ACA in expanding health coverage and reduce remaining coverage gaps. These suggestions include:

  • Expand Medi-Cal coverage to all low-income residents regardless of immigration status
  • Provide state subsidies to make individual market premiums and out-of-pocket costs more affordable
  • Implement a state individual coverage mandate
  • Continue to support and strengthen outreach and enrollment efforts

The full UCLA-UC Berkeley policy brief is available here.