NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

The Uninsured Crisis under ObamaCare

September 18, 2013

The number of people who lacked health coverage fell slightly to 48 million in 2012, from 48.6 million the year before, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's Income & Poverty report, says Devon M. Herrick, a senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis.

  • In 2012, just over 84.6 percent of U.S. residents, or 263.2 million people, were privately insured or enrolled in a government health program, according to the Census Bureau.
  • This is an increase in health coverage of nearly 3 million people from 2011.

The proportion of Americans without health coverage has been relatively stable over time. However, many of those who lack insurance are uninsured for only a short period of time. Data from past years showed that more than half of the uninsured will be covered within a year. The rise in the uninsured over the past decade was largely due to population growth, immigration, the recession and -- in some instances -- individual choice. However, this phenomenon will likely not change anytime soon.

The uninsured include diverse groups, each uninsured for a different reason. These groups include:

  • Low-income families (nearly 14.5 million adults and children).
  • Middle-income families (nearly 18.5 million in households with annual incomes above $50,000; 10 million live in households with incomes exceeding $75,000 annually).
  • The "young invincibles" (about 19 million 18 to 34 year olds).
  • Middle-aged adults.
  • Immigrants (12.8 million foreign-born residents).

Proponents of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) hoped it would achieve near-universal coverage. Yet, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the ACA will cover less than half of the uninsured. A decade from now (2023), long after the ACA is fully implemented, the CBO estimates it will only cover about 25 million people who would otherwise be uninsured, leaving 31 million people uninsured.

Following are some of the reasons why ObamaCare will not solve the uninsured crisis.

  • Unenforced individual mandate.
  • Perverse regulations.
  • Delayed employer mandate and the exchanges.
  • Rising costs.
  • Medicaid expansion limited.
  • Immigrants excluded from mandate.

Source: Devon M. Herrick, "The Uninsured Crisis under ObamaCare," National Center for Policy Analysis, September 18, 2013.


Browse more articles on Health Issues