NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

When It Comes to Health Coverage, Employers Insure More Than Obamacare

May 12, 2015

The RAND Corporation has published a thorough analysis of Obamacare's effect on health insurance that should have put an end to the Obamacare success narrative. Unfortunately, too many continue to confuse the effect of the delayed recovery with Obamacare. What the RAND study really shows is that employer-based benefits have been restored as jobs have started to come back, says NCPA senior fellow John R. Graham.

The headline is that 172.7 million people, ages 18-64, are covered in 2015, versus only 155.8 million in 2013. The number of uninsured dropped by 16.9 million from 42.7 million to 25.8 million, falling from 21.5 percent to 13.0 percent of the population in that age group.

However, the RAND survey examines people insured or uninsured at a point in time, reporting changes from September 2013 through February 2015. The good news is the number of people with employer-based benefits increased by 8 million, from 111.9 million to 119.9 million (The total population is adjusted for death, aging and migration over the period.)  Digging deeper, it looks like this improvement would have been much higher, but for Obamacare.


  • Only 4.1 million of those uninsured in September 2013 received health insurance through the poorly functioning exchanges.
  • Some 3.6 million workers lost their employer-based benefits and got dumped onto exchanges. Of the 9.7 million newly dependent on Medicaid, 6.5 million were previously uninsured. That is only two thirds of the total. The remaining third comprises a net of 3.2 million people who were previously insured.
  • Nearly 3 million who lost Medicaid coverage, over half - 1.7 million - either received employer-based benefits or bought non-subsidized individual policies.

Without Obamacare, they would surely have kept their benefits. The same is true for many of the previously uninsured who enrolled in exchanges or fell into Medicaid dependency, whom Obamacare has crowded out of employer-based coverage.

Source: John R. Graham, "Economic Growth Improved Health Coverage More Than Obamacare Did," National Center for Policy Analysis, May 11, 2015. 


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