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Obamacare: A Famous Victory

May 7, 2014 in Economics

By Michael D. Tanner

Michael D. Tanner

In the month since the formal end of Obamacare’senrollment period (actual enrollment limped on through mid-April), the Obama administration and its supporters have been on something of a victory tour.

“Obamacare has won,” announced Ezra Klein. “The Affordable Care Act is one of the great comeback stories of public policy,” declared Paul Krugman. “It is working,” the president himself told reporters.

Given the debacles of healthcare.gov and the initial rollout of the health-care exchanges, the fact that slightly more than 8 million Americans have signed up for exchange-based plans is a significant accomplishment. In addition, a few million more Americans have enrolled in Medicaid, and some more young people were able to remain on their parents’ insurance policies. Certainly, things could have been worse.

Obamacare’s supporters are lauding its dramatic turnaround. The facts give them the lie.”

But if this is victory, I’d hate to see defeat.

Let’s start with that 8 million figure.

Republicans were a bit premature last week when they jumped on the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s report stating that more than a third of enrollees had not paid their first month’s premium. That number was skewed by the surge of late enrollees, many of whom had not even received their first bill and so obviously hadn’t paid. However, the administration can’t be let entirely off the hook, since it has steadfastly refused to provide any information on actual payment rates. Its insistence that insurance companies won’t provide it with those data is risible. On the basis of earlier numbers, it seems likely that 15 to 20 percent of those signing up will never pay, and perhaps 3 to 5 percent will ultimately stop paying and drop their coverage.

Moreover, we still don’t know how many of those signing up through the exchanges were previously uninsured, as opposed to people voluntarily or involuntarily switching plans. We do know that as many as 6 million Americans lost their coverage because it was not compliant with Obamacare’s many mandates, and that perhaps 1 million of those remain uninsured. How many of the rest bought new coverage through an exchange remains murky, though some estimates suggest that the majority of these people found new insurance through the exchanges or Medicaid, or from an employer.

Enrollment also varies significantly from state to state. There is no doubt that some states were very successful in getting people to sign up. Nearly 48 …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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