Obamacare numbers look better, but they’re still far from good

Nearly 1.8 million signed up for health insurance through Obamacare’s exchanges in December, nearly five times as many people who got coverage during the exchange’s first two months.

That brings the number of Americans who have received coverage through HealthCare.gov, the federal exchange, and state exchanges to 2.2 million, according to official enrollment numbers released Monday.


“The numbers show that there is a very strong national demand for affordable health care made possible by the Affordable Care Act,” said Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of Health and Human Services.


The best news for Obamacare is that the number of young adults who signed up for coverage through HealthCare.gov in December was eight times higher than it was during the exchange’s first month. Getting lots of young adults to sign up for coverage is crucial for Obamacare’s success, because they’re healthier than other age groups. Their participation is needed to keep premiums affordable.


Enrollment in these exchanges ends March 31 for 2014, and HHS officials expect the number of signups by young adults will continue to grow as that deadline approaches.

Sebelius said 9 million people so far have received health insurance through Obamacare. Start with the 2.2 million who got coverage through the exchanges, and then add around 3.8 million people who have signed up for Medicaid coverage and 3 million young adults who have been allowed to remain on their parents’ plans until they’re 26.


But not all of these 9 million people were previously uninsured. Many of the people who bought plans on HealthCare.gov or state exchanges were simply buying a new policy to replace previous policies. HHS officials said Monday they don’t know yet how many of the 2.2 million who have signed up for coverage through the exchanges were previously uninsured.


Likewise, they don’t know how many of the people who have signed up for Medicaid through Obamacare already were getting insurance through that government program.

So, no, Obamacare has not reduced the number of uninsured Americans by 9 million people.


Even if it had, that would represent only a small portion of the total number of uninsured Americans. The U.S. Census Bureau put that number at 48 million in 2012.

Of that 48 million, 18 million were in the 19-34 age range. The exchanges have signed up only about 500,000 of these young adults so far.


So while HealthCare.gov has made a lot of progress since it’s disastrous beginnings, it’s not making much of a dent in the number of uninsured Americans. The truth is, even if it lives up to all its expectations, Obamacare would still leave around 30 million people without health insurance in 2016, according to an analysis by Health Affairs.

Like it or loathe it, Obamacare will not come anywhere close to providing universal health insurance coverage in America.



Source : Kent Hoover