Nearly 47,000 people with HIV who are in care and an additional 124,000 who are not have the potential to gain insurance coverage thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or “Obamacare”), according to Kaiser Family Foundation. The nonprofit health research organization analyzed data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Medical Monitoring Project to provide this first-of-its-kind analysis of how the 2010 health care law likely affects the HIV population. The study does not take into account any actual enrollment into ACA-related health care plans that may have taken place since open enrollment began in October 2013.

Out of an estimated 1.2 million Americans who are living with the virus, nearly 407,000 are in care.  Eighty-seven percent of those in care have incomes below 400 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL), which is the cutoff for receiving federal subsidies to pay for the new insurance marketplace plans. About 40 percent of Americans with HIV who are in care are currently covered by Medicaid.

Almost 70,000 of those in care, or 17 percent, are uninsured. Of this group, about 23,000 should be eligible for coverage in the insurance marketplace plans, and most of them would also qualify for financial assistance paying for monthly insurance premiums. The remaining 47,000 of the uninsured would qualify for expanded Medicaid programs—but only if all the states were buying into the new system. At this time, only 26 states are expanding their Medicaid programs in accordance with the ACA, thus slashing the number of people who qualify by about 40 percent.

In the report, Kaiser Family Foundation stresses that the Ryan White CARE Act will continue to play a crucial role in supporting the health care needs of those living with HIV. For one, the federal entitlement program “will be critical in filling in the gaps in insurance coverage for HIV care for many insured people with HIV, as it does today.” Funds from the CARE Act will also be necessary to help pay for the care for those still shut out of insurance coverage.

The report also finds that, when considering the 700,000 Americans with HIV who are not in care, an additional 124,000 of them could gain insurance coverage under the new health care law, thus helping to break down a significant barrier to care.

To read the Kaiser Family Foundation report, click here.