ACA's coverage gains decreased income inequality: study

Affordable Care Act
A new study from the Urban Institute examines the ACA's impact on income inequality. (Getty/zimmytws)

Coverage gains made and subsidies offered under the Affordable Care Act reduced income inequality by more than 10% in 2019, according to a new study from the Urban Institute, a left-leaning think tank.

The study, backed by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and published in Health Affairs, found that for a typical person in the bottom 10th percentile of income, those who enrolled in a plan under the ACA saw their incomes increase by an average of 18.8%.

In states that expanded Medicaid, their incomes rose by an average of 22%, the study found.

The study also found that coverage gains led to reductions in income inequality within and between age and racial groups.

RELATED: Low-income families, young adults would be hit hardest by ACA rollback, study finds

The researchers said that impacts like this should also be in the conversation on the potential effects of eliminating the ACA.

“In addition to gaining access to comprehensive health coverage, millions of uninsured people gained greater financial security by enrolling in the ACA,” said Katherine Hempstead, senior policy adviser at RWJF, in a statement. “Any effort to eliminate or invalidate the ACA would have far-reaching consequences that include increased financial hardship for working families across the country.”

The healthcare industry is awaiting the Supreme Court's word on the fate of the Affordable Care Act. The country's highest court heard oral arguments in early November in a legal challenge from red states and the Trump administration, which hold that the law was rendered invalid in full when Congress zeroed out the individual mandate tax penalty.

A federal district court judge in Texas agreed, and the case has been winding its way through the courts for more than two years.

Legal experts said that questioning during oral arguments suggests that SCOTUS is likely to preserve the majority of the law, but also cautioned against reading too deeply into questions raised during such hearings.