More than nine million previously uninsured Americans have gained coverage under Obamacare, according to a review of available enrollment data obtained by the Los Angeles Times. Although final enrollment data is not yet available, these early figures contradict Obamacare opponents’ claims that the health law hasn’t led to a real expansion of coverage.
The Obama administration has not yet released detailed information about how many Americans are newly insured under the reform law, compared to the people who already had some type of insurance and just switched to a new plan. But, after reviewing the available data for the three different populations that are benefiting from Obamacare’s coverage expansion, researchers at the RAND Corporation arrived at an estimate of about 9.5 million people.
According to the LA Times, RAND estimates that about two million previously uninsured people have enrolled in private coverage on Obamacare’s new marketplaces; about 4.5 million previously uninsured people have gained public coverage through Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion; and about three million previously uninsured young people are now covered on their parents’ insurance plans.
Earlier surveys found that about 27 percent of marketplace enrollees were previously uninsured, but RAND believes that number inched higher in March. As Obamacare’s enrollment period comes to a close, administration officials have seen a surge of interest in the health law. Last week, the White House announced that the number of sign-ups had reached six million several days before Monday’s deadline.
Along the same lines, RAND has also documented a drop in the uninsurance rate for Americans between the ages of 18 and 64. The research organization found that the number of adults without health care dropped from about 21 percent last fall to about 17 percent by March 22. That’s reinforced by other polling that has reported dramatic drops in uninsurance rates among low-income people who stand to benefit from Obamacare.
Nonetheless, anti-Obamacare lawmakers haven’t been impressed with this month’s enrollment figures. Republicans typically claim that the Americans who received insurance cancellation letters last fall — in other words, the people who were required to enroll in a new plan because their old one didn’t meet Obamacare’s minimum benefits standards — will contribute to an overall decline in health coverage. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who has long accused the administration of using “fuzzy math” to calculate Obamacare’s effect on the uninsurance rate, maintains that the number of people without health care is actually rising.
But the available evidence contradicts those claims. According to Katherine Carman, the RAND researcher who’s overseeing the group’s data in this area, the population that received cancellation letters represents “a very small fraction of the country.” Meanwhile, Obamacare includes other provisions, like the Medicaid expansion and the subsidies that help people buy plans on the marketplaces, to offset the relatively small impact of those cancellations.