NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Don't Be Misled by Obamacare Sign-Up Figures

February 19, 2015

While the White House is cheering 11.4 million health insurance sign-ups in the exchanges, Avik Roy of the Manhattan Institute says those numbers are misleading and obscure the number of previously uninsured individuals who now have coverage.

To start, Roy reminds readers that "signing up" for Obamacare doesn't mean "enrolling" in Obamacare -- in fact, just 84 percent of people who signed up for coverage last year actually ended up paying their premiums and enrolling. Last year, the White House hailed 8 million exchange sign-ups, despite that just 6.7 million were actually enrolled at the end of the enrollment year. If that trend holds true, Roy says the likely figure for 2015 is closer to 9.5 million enrollees, not 11.4 million.

On top of that, Roy says that signing 11.4 million Americans up for health insurance is not the same as signing up 11.4 million previously uninsured Americans for health insurance -- many of those enrolling on the Obamacare exchanges already had private health insurance prior to the Affordable Care Act. Consider:

  • In 2013, at least 4.7 million Americans had their insurance policies canceled because of Obamacare.
  • A Kaiser Family Foundation survey concluded that 57 percent (3.8 million) of exchange enrollees in 2014 had been previously uninsured.
  • Combining the Kaiser figure of 57 percent with the expectation that 84 percent of the 11.4 million sign-ups will not actually pay their premiums, Roy estimates that just 5.4 million previously uninsured individuals will be enrolled in Obamacare by the end of 2015.

Thus, says Roy, it's misleading to attribute the 11.4 million sign-ups to the Affordable Care Act, if just 5.4 million are actually individuals who previously lacked insurance.

Source: Avik Roy, "Contra White House, Obamacare Exchanges Enroll Approx. 5 Million Uninsured, Not 11.4 Million," Forbes.com, February 18, 2015. 

 

Browse more articles on Health Issues