More Obamacare Enrollment Data, More Obamacare Enrollment Questions



More than nine months after the start of Obamacare's primary coverage expansion, it's still difficult to discern exactly what its effect was. And new data released today does little to clear up remaining questions.

Multiple surveys so far indicate that millions of people who did not previously have coverage are now insured. But how many were covered directly through the law? And what was the net increase?

A new report from The National Health Interview Survey, an in-home survey taken by federal researchers the National Center for Health Statistics within the Centers for Disease Control, represents the first time the government has attempted to measure the net impact of the law on coverage. The researchers found that the percentage of people who said they lacked insurance at the time of the interview dropped from 14.4 percent in the first quarter of last year to the 13.1 percent this year. That drop indicates that about 3.8 million more people had insurance in the first quarter of this year than in the first quarter of last year, which, as The New York Times notes, is in line with the private tracking polls from Gallup.

But this survey probably doesn't measure the full impact of the law. That's because the survey was conducted from January through March of this year, when Obamacare's open enrollment period was still ongoing. So it wouldn't capture much of the last-minute enrollment surge that accounted for a significant portion of the sign-ups under the law. People who signed-up at the end of March, or in the extended enrollment period in early April, wouldn't have technically been insured for another month or more.

That leaves us with a likely net increase in coverage of several million. But exactly how many is still difficult to say.

Meanwhile, the direct effects of the law, as reported by the administration, continue to be unclear. Through the summer, federal health officials have been working to resolve application discrepancies related to income and citizenship with millions of individuals receiving coverage and subsidies under the law. Citzenship issues were the first priority, and the administration now says that about 115,000 people may end up having their coverage revoked because they have not provided adequate proof of citzenship. 

Many more people who signed up also had income-related issues potentially affecting subsidy eligibility. At the end of May, about 1.2 million households, or 1.6 million individuals, had income-related discrepancies. According to a memo sent from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) yesterday, about 467,000 of those have been "closed" and about 430,000 are "currently in the process of being resolved."

That leaves 279,000 households, or about 363,000 people, who could lose their subsidies if they don't send in additional paperwork to verify their incomes before September 30.  

If that happens, their coverage won't immediately be cancelled. But it's likely that with the subsidy gone, many would drop the coverage they had.

It's possible that many have already lost their subsidies. The CMS memo notes how many cases have been closed, and how many are being resolved. But it doesn't provide any information at all about how those cases were resolved. That's a departure from when the discrepancies were first revealed in June. At the time, as CBS News reported, federal health officials stressed that consumers were coming out ahead in the "vast majority" of resolved cases. It seems probable some portion of the resolutions since, and perhaps even a significant fraction, were resolved with the subsidies being taken away. 

NEXT: Obama Struggles to Build Anti-ISIS Coalition

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. How many of those people wanted insurance in the first place? More importantly, how many of those people consider the insurance they have to be a good deal?

    1. Also, how many of those people would have already had insurance if not for previous government meddling.

      1. That too. How much has total employment gone up over that time? And how many of those people got insurance because of it?

    2. I do not know about other states, but here in CA, all zero-cost Medicaid participants (called MediCal here), are being bumped from the State rolls and onto the State Exchange. This swells the number of those getting coverage “through the exchange” by somewhere between $750,000 and $900,000 in CA alone.

      1. I have NO idea where those $ signs came from LOL

  2. Another day, Peter, and another one of your theories (the uninsured numbers are not decreasing) gets shot down.

    1. Of course they are not. This thing is widely popular and is going to ensure Democratic Control of the entire government for an entire generation. Just look at the polls and how big the Democrats are expecting to win this November. Just look at them.

      1. I don’t know about you john, but I love being forced to buy a product. It is what I look for in a politician before I vote for him. What will he make me buy?

        1. I love that almost as much as I love having an insurance contract I was happy with forcibly replaced with a new Obama contract.

          I honestly hope people like Jackland Ace get painful diseases and die for lack of care. Sadly, these assholes never suffer for their idiocy. It is just the rest of us who do.

        2. It just makes me want to euthanize all progressives.

          McCarthy didn’t go nearly far enough.

    2. Sorry pal, but if the news was good for the Administration, they would be parading it around for all to see. The fact that they aren’t is all you need to know.

    3. So, the federal government seizes control of 30% of the economy, strips millions of people of insurance they used to have, taxes the c**p out of its citizens, all for a decrease of 1.3% in the number of uninsured. How much will getting the other still-uninsured 13% cost us in privacy, freedom of choice, and dollars?

  3. my buddy’s mom makes $70 an hour on the internet . She has been laid off for 9 months but last month her pay was $16513 just working on the internet for a few hours. browse around this website….

    ???????? http://www.netjob70.com

    1. So she got a $9/hour raise since the last post.

      1. Maybe she incorporated rimjobs into her repertoire.

      2. Hey, she’s probably insured, for now…

  4. speaking of Obamacare:

    MNsure’s dominant insurer pulls out of health exchange

    “Our MNsure individual product membership is only a small percentage of the entire PreferredOne enrollment but is taking a significant amount of our resources to support administratively,” the company said in a statement to KSTP. “We feel continuing on MNsure was not sustainable and believe this is an important step to best serve all PreferredOne members.”

    Minnesota wasn’t the only state where sustainability was raised as an issue for low-cost health coverage. UnitedHealth Group Inc., in comments earlier this year, said that rivals in New York ? one of the few states where it competed on a health exchange ? were pricing plans at “unsustainable” levels.

    PreferredOne’s market share on the exchange totaled about 59 percent. Consumers who signed up for PreferredOne plans can renew their coverage next year, though the insurer will be able change premium prices for 2015.

    1. How very unpatriotic of them. Tax them into oblivion!

  5. Multiple surveys so far indicate that millions of people who did not previously have coverage are now insured.

    Medicaid is not insurance, so unless they back out Medicaid, they aren’t doing this right.

    Among real insurance, are they accounting for

    (a) The people who lost coverage last year? As I recall, that was estimated at @ 5mm.

    (b) The people who haven’t paid their premiums? The data on that was coming in at around 20% or more. According to feds, @8mm got insurance through the exchanges. Knock that down to 6.4mm for nonpayment , and you are getting perilously close to breaking even after accounting for the people who lost coverage.

    (c) Are they including people who bought insurance off the exchanges? Because for the life of me I don’t see how that can be credited to ObamaCare.

    1. (c) Are they including people who bought insurance off the exchanges? Because for the life of me I don’t see how that can be credited to ObamaCare.

      when an entire populace is forced at gunpoint, it’s hard to tell who did it for why.

  6. This is the Republicans’ fault. They weren’t down with Obamacare’s original “honor” system in which your word was good as oak. The healthcare restrictionists wanted to make sure that someone was actually eligible to receive subsidies. They’re racists.

    1. “healthcare restrictionists” You are the awesome!!

  7. Affordable
    High quality
    You can have any two, but not all three

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.