Obamacare helping poor patients visit doctors and seek medical aid

A number of recent studies suggest that Obamacare has helped people become less likely to have medical debt or to postpone care due to cost. They were also  more likely to have a regular doctor and to be getting preventive health services like vaccines and cancer screenings.

A new study, published yesterday in JAMA Internal Medicine, offered another way of looking at the issue. People from the low income group in Arkansas and Kentucky, which expanded Medicaid insurance to everyone below a certain income threshold, appeared to be healthier than their peers in Texas, which did not expand.

In its 2012 ruling, the Supreme Court allowed states to exercise option over Medicaid expansion. With the resulting variation in choices it became much easier to compare what happened in different states and draw conclusions about what effects health insurance coverage might have for the finances and health of Americans.

The researchers conducted a large telephone survey of low-income residents of the three states. The low-income residents were asked the same questions  in 2013, before the law's Medicaid expansion; at the end of 2014, after it had been in place for a year; and at the end of last year.

''The effects of expanding coverage will be an unfolding story over time,'' said Sommers.

''But we are starting to see the kind of broad-based improvements that we would expect with better access.''

The health law, often called Obamacare, nevertheless continued to be a contentious issue in national politics, as it had been, when passed in 2010.

Republican politicians continue to oppose the measure in many red states, arguing that the programme was unaffordable and ineffective.

The Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has pledged to repeal the law, but had offered little indication how he would replace the expanded safety net.