Fatal Brain Injuries In Blacks And Hispanics Dropped Under The Affordable Care Act


Robin Andrews

Science & Policy Writer


The ACA has saved lives - there's no doubt about it. Basov Mikhail/Shutterstock

Several landmark studies published in the last few years point towards the success of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – better known as Obamacare. A recent Oregon-focused research paper found that cardiac arrests dropped dramatically following its implementation, for example.

Now, writing in the journal Surgery, a team led by the University of Wisconsin has found that fatal brain injuries in certain minority groups have plummeted too.


“We sought to gauge the Affordable Care Act’s effect on outcomes after traumatic brain injury, as graded by race/ethnicity and insurance status,” the team explained.

A careful analysis of a huge data collection of traumatic brain injuries revealed that, since the implementation of the ACA, black and Hispanic patients had a 20 percent lower mortality rate. Other minority groups, including Asians and Native Americans, experienced no statistically significant change, but those uninsured died 9 percent more frequently.

Those on Medicaid – the federal support program that ensures low-income families have access to healthcare – didn’t experience a decrease in mortality rates linked to brain injuries. However, they spent less time at hospitals, required fewer operations, and recovered quicker.

Brain injury mortality rates have clearly fallen in at least two different demographics. Puwadol Jaturawutthichai/Shutterstock

Detractors of the aforementioned Oregon study pointed out that it’s difficult extrapolating the effects of the ACA when you’re only focusing on one such state. The same criticism cannot be leveled at this new piece of research, which took its data from the National Trauma Data Bank (NTDB).


This is a compilation of the causes, diagnoses, and outcomes of traumatic injuries that take place across the entire country. From emergency rooms to specialized trauma centers, this information is sent in by participants from every single state.

This means that it paints a decent picture of how the ACA has affected such injuries after its implementation – and, as first reported by saludmovil, it’s increasingly looking like a literal lifesaver.

“The ACA remains the single most dramatic change in healthcare policy during the past several decades, and as a result, its legislative mandates have impacted the evolution of healthcare,” the authors of the study concluded. Although more research is required, it’s clear that “outcomes for the uninsured represent an ominous result”.

These findings somewhat echo those of a major review into the ACA, published in the New England Journal of Medicine on the 5-year anniversary of its passing. Although the researchers then noted that this time period is too short to properly analyze the effects of the ACA, certain trends are clear to see.


“Groups that have historically been at the greatest risk for lacking insurance – young adults, Hispanics, blacks, and those with low incomes – have made the greatest coverage gains,” the team pointed out. “These changes are meaningful and unprecedented in the US health care system.”

To be honest, you’d be hard-pressed to find a medical professional or researcher that supported either the House or Senate attempts to repeal and replace Obamacare.

The replacement bills were bad enough – they aimed to roll back Medicaid funding, stripped millions more of any health insurance at all, and would have led to hundreds of thousands of premature deaths in just a few years. A clean repeal would have been even worse, an action that would have doomed 32 million Americans to a future lacking any healthcare support at all.

Is it perfect? No – but it’s light-years better than the alternatives.


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