More Puzzling ObamaCare Numbers

April 16, 2014

A new report from the RAND Corporation comes to very different conclusions about the success of the health insurance exchanges, says Megan McArdle for Bloomberg View.

The RAND study followed 2,425 adults -- ages 18 to 64 -- and tracked them over six months, from September 2013 to March 28, 2014. From those figures, RAND produced estimates for the U.S. population as a whole. According to the report:

  • There were 40.7 million uninsured in 2013, a figure that fell to 31.4 million in 2014. However, 4.4 million people lost their insurance during this time, resulting in a net gain of 9.3 million.
  • The majority of that gain came from employer-sponsored insurance and Medicaid coverage. Less than 2 million people who were previously uninsured actually purchased individual insurance policies, whether on or off of the exchanges.
  • Of those who lost insurance, most had previously had employer-sponsored insurance.
  • 3.9 million Americans actually purchased exchange policies from October 2013 through March 28, 2014. Only one-third of these were previously uninsured.
  • Of the 18.2 million on Medicaid for 2014, 3.6 million had been previously uninsured.
  • Those with employer-sponsored health insurance rose from 108 million to 116 million.
  • The number of Americans with insurance designated as "other" dropped by 7.2 million, with those people becoming uninsured or moving to employer-sponsored insurance.

McArdle describes the study as "puzzling," asking why so many people suddenly received employer-sponsored insurance and why so many with "other" insurance lost it. And why is 3.9 million so much smaller than the administration's figures insisting that 7.3 million Americans had chosen exchange insurance plans? While 2,500 is a large sample size, could the numbers have been thrown off by chance? Unfortunately, we will not know the answers to these questions until more information is released.

Source: Megan McArdle, "More Puzzling Obamacare Numbers," Bloomberg, April 9, 2014. Katherine Carman and Christine Eibner, "Changes in Health Insurance Enrollment Since 2013," RAND Corporation, 2014.

 

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