NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Analyst Estimates Obamacare Will Increase Number of Uninsured

September 5, 2014

By the end of the decade, the United States' health system will be in worse shape than it was before the Affordable Care Act, contends Michael Ramlet of the research firm Paragon Insights. While the law was touted as providing affordable health coverage for the uninsured, Ramlet projects the number of uninsured will actually increase, as will health care premium costs.

When President Obama marketed his health care law, he said it would lower premiums for families by $2,500. But according to PricewaterhouseCoopers, insurance premiums will likely increase by an average of 7.5 percent in 2015. In fact, in research conducted with Stephen Parente, a health finance professor at the University of Minnesota, Ramlet estimates the president's signature health care law will do the opposite of what was promised:

  • From 2014 to 2016, health care plans will rise in price. At the same time, the number of uninsured will fall, as people enroll in Medicaid and sign up for private plans in the health exchanges.
  • But in 2017, two significant ACA provisions -- which keep insurance costs down by giving taxpayer dollars to insurance companies -- expire.
  • Expiration of those provisions (which NCPA Senior Fellow John Graham has discussed in a recent NCPA issue brief) will send prices skyrocketing. Insurance enrollees will discover these hikes in the fall of 2016 when they go to renew their policies.
  • Ramlet estimates the cheapest individual bronze plans could increase by 96 percent, rising from $2,100 to $4,200 annually. For families, plans could increase 50 percent, reaching $13,000 in annual premiums.

With such price increases, the number of uninsured could increase by 10 percent within 10 years, as Americans struggle to afford the higher prices. Ramlet estimates 40 million Americans could ultimately be uninsured within a decade.

Source: Michael Ramlet, "A 10-Year Prediction for the Affordable Care Act," National Journal, August 29, 2014. 


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