How many “new” Obamacare exchange enrollees were previously uninsured?

posted at 2:41 pm on March 31, 2014 by Guy Benson

Health care expert Bob Laszewski explains why the answer to this simple question should be the decisive factor in determining the relative success or failure of Obamacare:

Are enough people getting coverage who didn’t have it before to justify the sacrifices the people who were already covered––in the individual, small group, and large employer market––are making or will make? I will suggest the country will never really be able to judge how good or how bad Obamacare is until that question is answered…It’s easy to answer this question. We only need ask the carriers for two numbers:

  1. The number of people they insured (and were paid for) in both the individual and small group markets as of December 31, 2013––the day before Obamacare started covering people.
  2. The number of people that were insured (and paid for) in both the individual and small group markets on a specific date––March 31, 2014, for example.

I will suggest that asking for both the small group and individual market numbers is important as people have a tendency to move between the markets, particularly as employers drop coverage and their people go, or don’t go, into the exchanges. Then subtract one total from the other. We would have an excellent idea of just how many more people, net of any gains and losses, secured private insurance since Obamacare’s launch. Then people could make their judgments about how well Obamacare accomplished health insurance reform free from all of the spin.

Laszewski adds that independent of the previously uninsured issue, the administration’s enrollment figures are also inflated by counting unpaid “sign ups” — an issue we’ve covered ad nauseam.  The administration claims it doesn’t have access to payment delinquency stats, but that may not be true.  In any case, unless and until the White House releases complete and transparent data, the public will rely on outside estimates and studies to answer core questions.  So I’ll reiterate my question:  How many “new” Obamacare exchange enrollees were previously uninsured?  Laszewski takes a stab an answer, based on anecdotal reports he’s received from industry insiders:

My conversations with carriers suggest that about half of the enrollments come from the ranks of the previously insured. But that is just anecdotal information. I don’t have a hard number.

“Roughly half” is the most generous estimate I’ve seen.  Jonathan Cohn of the liberal New Republic points to data from a small handful of states where Obamacare is working relatively well as cause for hope among the law’s supporters.  But the national picture is murky — and based on three separate independent studies, the overall figures remain weak:

(1) RAND corporation – “A new study from the RAND corporation indicates that only one-third of exchange sign-ups were previously uninsured. The RAND study hasn’t yet been published, but its contents were made available to Noam Levey of the Los Angeles Times. RAND also estimates that 9 million individuals have purchased health plans directly from insurers, outside of the exchanges, but that “the vast majority of these people were previously insured.”

(2) Goldman Sachs – “Goldman Sachs is projecting that only 1 million Obamacare sign-ups will come from previously uninsured Americans. Indeed, it estimates that the number of total signups will be just 4 million — not 6 million, as the administration claims — because ‘HHS figures . . .count all persons who selected an ACA exchange plan regardless of whether or not they have actually completed the enrollment process by paying their premium.’ Goldman Sachs also anticipates that fully 75 percent of all the Obamacare sign-ups will be from people who already had insurance.”

(3) McKinsey – “Of the Obamacare sign-ups, only 27 percent had been previously uninsured in 2013. And of the 27 percent, nearly half had yet to pay a premium. (By contrast, among the 73 percent who had been previously insured, 86 percent had paid).”

American taxpayers have forked over $2 trillion to uproot an existing system with which most Americans were satisfied.  If only a fraction of the law’s “newly” enrolled previously lacked coverage, how many Americans will consider the broader expensive disruption to have been worth it?  Philip Klein notes how badly the White House has whiffed on Congressional Budget Office projections:

According to the Times, which cites a study from Rand Corp., “At least 6 million people have signed up for health coverage on the new marketplaces, about one-third of whom were previously uninsured.” That suggests that two million uninsured Americans gained coverage as a result of the law. Additionally, the article reports, “At least 4.5 million previously uninsured adults have signed up for state Medicaid programs.” So between Medicaid and the private exchanges, that makes 6.5 million previously uninsured Americans who have now gained coverage…But even as recently as February — when analysts knew how many states weren’t going along with the Medicaid expansion and were aware of the early technical glitches facing the rollout of Obamacare — the CBO still projected that the law would reduce the number of uninsured by 13million.

So they missed CBO’s anticipated target by 50 percent.  A new CBS News poll confirms what every other national survey has demonstrated. People dislike Obamacare — including younger Americans:

In an attempt to enroll healthier people into the health are exchanges, the Obama administration has been targeting young adults to sign up, but what do they think of the law? Well, they don’t like it so much. Despite young Americans’ overall support for President Obama (48 percent approve of the job the president is doing)…they are not enthusiastic about the ACA: 42 percent approve of it, but more (50 percent) disapprove — opinions were similar in January. Young Americans’ views on the health care law do not differ much from those who are older.

Millennials are uniquely screwed by the law’s generational wealth transfers.


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OT – Breaking – I really hate this.

Schadenfreude on March 31, 2014 at 2:46 PM

At this point WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE! /HC

geojed on March 31, 2014 at 2:47 PM

….millions…and more millions!!……of course!

KOOLAID2 on March 31, 2014 at 2:47 PM

Millennials are uniquely screwed by the law’s generational wealth transfers.

They’ll figure things out…too late to save themselves from the impact of their presidential votes. Oh, well…

butch on March 31, 2014 at 2:48 PM

I’m beginning to think that Obama-democrat Care is racist.

jukin3 on March 31, 2014 at 2:49 PM

“Roughly half” is the most generous estimate I’ve seen.

Of six million. That means three million. But what about the “fierce moral urgency” of 40 million uninsured? Wasn’t that why we had to pass Obamacare?

rbj on March 31, 2014 at 2:50 PM

OT – Breaking – I really hate this.

Schadenfreude on March 31, 2014 at 2:46 PM

…what were you expecting?….EVERYTHING that CAN BE GIVEN UP….will be given up!…they have 2+ more years!

KOOLAID2 on March 31, 2014 at 2:51 PM

Schadenfreude on March 31, 2014 at 2:46 PM

The administration is desperate for something it can claim as foreign policy success. Anything!

butch on March 31, 2014 at 2:51 PM

Why would someone who was previously uninsured pay at least $ 2500 dollar for a crappy Obamacare insurance with very high out of pocket payout and deductible when they can only pay 1% of their salary as a penalty in case they do not sign up… Most of the people who are uninsured and do no qualify for Medicaid make less than $ 50,000 a year so their penalty is only $ 500 a year and thus they save at least $ 2000 by not buying Obamacare crap insurance and just pay the penalty…

mnjg on March 31, 2014 at 2:51 PM

Tell this to Angus King, Obamacare shill.

Throat Wobbler Mangrove on March 31, 2014 at 2:51 PM

Oh yeah…..another Palestinian Lucy Van Pelt field-goal attempt.

“No, really. This time, we’ll keep our word when you let those prisoners go.”

BobMbx on March 31, 2014 at 2:51 PM

Of six million. That means three million. But what about the “fierce moral urgency” of 40 million uninsured? Wasn’t that why we had to pass Obamacare?

rbj on March 31, 2014 at 2:50 PM

No, we had to pass Obamacare so that we could see what was in Obamacare.

IMO the larger the victory lap the rat-eared wonder and his minions take today, the more miserable the real numbers are. I’m talking about the folks paying into the system, not the parasites who pay “something” but are really stealing from their neighbors through “subsidies.” That’s right I said it. Anybody who is on Obamacare with a subsidy is a parasite and thief who are worthless in society and should be treated like the scum they are.

Happy Nomad on March 31, 2014 at 2:54 PM

Most of the new enrollees signed up for Medicaid under the expanded eligibility.

agmartin on March 31, 2014 at 2:59 PM

If you notice the only “positive” the admin is highlighting is sign-ups. They use the same bullsh1t that they used for employment (created or saved) Obamacare (paid or not paid). You don’t hear them talking about cost savings or young people sign-ups or in this case previously covered or not.

Sven on March 31, 2014 at 3:01 PM

This administration – this government – will never tell the truth about Obamacare. Unfortunately for them, so many people are experiencing it first-hand. We are living it.

TarheelBen on March 31, 2014 at 3:02 PM

It has gotten to the point where I can’t even stand the sight of these lying POSs anymore. They’re such brazen liars and frauds it’s nauseating.

Common Sense Floridian on March 31, 2014 at 3:07 PM

Is this the part where everdiso shows up and says Obamacare has enrolled 38 million people and has been the most successful government program since the invention of the wheel?

The Schaef on March 31, 2014 at 3:11 PM

You guys are actually still believing that lie about millions losing insurance, eh?

That’s pretty funny.

everdiso on March 27, 2014 at 5:17 PM

Chuck Schick on March 31, 2014 at 3:16 PM

Most of the new enrollees signed up for Medicaid under the expanded eligibility.

agmartin on March 31, 2014 at 2:59 PM

And in a couple of years when private insurance is too expensive, the Fascist-Democrats’ mantra will be: “let’s put everyone on Medicaid.”

rbj on March 31, 2014 at 3:17 PM

Republicans still mad they can’t keep everybody from getting health care.

Murphy9 on March 31, 2014 at 3:18 PM

I expect the administration to revise their announcement by stating that the the number of 6 million is the number of health care plans ‘saved or created.’

chimney sweep on March 31, 2014 at 3:24 PM

If the stats were remotely positive, is there any doubt you would be hearing them EVERYWHERE?

ParisParamus on March 31, 2014 at 3:30 PM

15% were uninsured in 2008 (look at left side of graph), while 16% are uninsured in 2014
 
http://www.gallup.com/poll/167798/uninsured-rate-continues-fall.aspx?utm_source=alert&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=syndication&utm_content=morelink&utm_term=All%20Gallup%20Headlines
 
Now, which is the higher number of uninsured:
 
Pre-Obamacare’s 15%?
 
Or post-Obamacare’s 16%?

rogerb on March 31, 2014 at 3:31 PM

Far too many progressive ideologues are leaping to leverage the extremely fraudulent LA Times hack piece by Noam Levy which is touting 9.5 million previously uninsured people have gained health insurance coverage via Obamacare.

Levy does this by looking at the same studies as listed above, along with ‘interviews with government officials’ and comes to a conclusion that fits in perfectly with the Obama Hope & Change Unicorns and Free Stuff from the Government rose colored glasses view of the country.

No mention of the multiple counts of ‘enrollees’.

No mention of the sizable number of ‘enrollees’ who never paid their first premiums.

No mention of how many of the ‘enrollees’ are via the expanded Medicaid coverages of Obamacare.

No mention or review of the risk selection viability of the ‘enrollees’ or the fiscal viability of the partner companies.

Every positive number is taken as face value, while every negative indicator is dismissed – including the 6+ million who lost their insurance policies because they were ‘substandard’.

If one thing is a constant with the EpicCluterFark – it’s built, maintained, and continues to be promoted with little more than blatant and callous lies.

Athos on March 31, 2014 at 3:32 PM

How many of the newly insured are only now insured because of the mandate, i.e. compulsion?

Charlemagne on March 31, 2014 at 3:33 PM

So basically well below 6 million and likely under 3 million you talk about a epic fail.

sorrowen on March 31, 2014 at 3:40 PM

Republicans still mad they can’t keep everybody from getting health care.
Murphy9 on March 31, 2014 at 3:18 PM
What healthcare the law is about as functional as cash for clunkers theoreticalism does not make it sucks less hell it fails by its own poor standards.

sorrowen on March 31, 2014 at 3:42 PM

How many of the newly insured are only now insured because of the mandate, i.e. compulsion?

Charlemagne on March 31, 2014 at 3:33 PM

That’s one of the challenges with this Administration – you’ve asked a very simple question, but they keep denying they know the answer.

In the McKinsey report highlighted above – only 27% of those of those who have ‘enrolled’ on Obamacare did not have insurance previously. The study also found that of those ‘enrollments’, only 53% actually paid their initial premiums to actually have coverage.

As determined here, that means, if we accept the 6 million ‘enrollment’ number of the Administration as accurate (which it isn’t as it is overstated), 810K of those didn’t have insurance previously to Obamacare and paid their initial premiums to actually get coverage.

But that’s only part of your question. The part that can’t be determined is out of those 810K (or fewer), how many of them are the young (18-34) extremely healthy who signed up to not be subject to the penalty? We don’t even know how many of the entire enrollment number are young healthy that are critical for the fiscal viability of the exchanges / ins co partners….let alone how many did so to avoid paying a penalty that they think is only $95….but in all actuality will be hundreds higher in the majority of the cases.

Athos on March 31, 2014 at 3:43 PM

“Roughly half” is the most generous estimate I’ve seen.

Of six million. That means three million. But what about the “fierce moral urgency” of 40 million uninsured? Wasn’t that why we had to pass Obamacare?

rbj on March 31, 2014 at 2:50 PM

No problem. Single-payer to the rescue!

HiJack on March 31, 2014 at 4:00 PM

Now, which is the higher number of uninsured:

Pre-Obamacare’s 15%?

Or post-Obamacare’s 16%?

rogerb on March 31, 2014 at 3:31 PM

Liberal math would make it only 1% of uninsured: 16% minus 15% = 1%. News at eleven.

HiJack on March 31, 2014 at 4:03 PM

In any case, unless and until the White House releases complete and transparent data, the public will rely on outside estimates and studies to answer core questions.

No, they’ll actually believe, hook line and sinker, whatever the f*ck the WH says. And whatever the f*ck bullshit polls say, like the one AP seems to be somewhat buying into in a newer thread. And if not buying into it, then accepting it as a baseline/trend indicator when all of this is complete and utter bullshit, and everyone f*cking knows it.

Midas on March 31, 2014 at 4:16 PM

A $500 fee to NOT have insurance is okay with some people?!?!?! I hope those nimrods enjoy paying $600 to not drive a Mercedes, $1000 to not live in a nice house etc. When did things get so ridiculous that we don’t balk at paying not to have something?

Annie21LA on March 31, 2014 at 4:20 PM

In any case, unless and until the White House releases complete and transparent data

And in other news, Hell appears to have frozen over …

Mark Boabaca on March 31, 2014 at 4:28 PM

The correct answer is many, many less than the numbers who have lost their insurance thanks to Obunglercare. Making it a typically pathetic socialist boondoggle.

Whitey Ford on March 31, 2014 at 4:31 PM

No problem. Single-payer to the rescue!

HiJack on March 31, 2014 at 4:00 PM

Every time I see that post; I want to rip off my shirt Black Oak Arkansas style and star playing Jim Dandy.

HonestLib on March 31, 2014 at 5:01 PM

Also on this 6m number, the WH is counting the new Medicaid sigh ups. Those need to be taken out of the equation right from the start. Wasn’t 6m signed up and PAID, with 45 percent being of new, young, healthy hosts, the target to make the new ACA a new and viable Entitlement? The new Medicaid sign ups now have their Medical paid for by the taxpayers, where some them were responsible individuals and were actually paying for their insurance before but can’t afford to now.
What really concerns me is the IRS connection. Healthcare cost are sky high. Run up a bill due to having a medical emergency outside your covered area, or not being able to pay the sky high deductibles for a couple years (due tot the bread winner being laid up) and the IRS can just take it from any account or possession. No court, no judge, no third party. A couple of generational turnovers and the Government will own most of the property and bank accounts.

Whiterock on March 31, 2014 at 5:06 PM

I hope that everyone out there realizes that the GOV. Has all the real numbers but by not releasing them is like taking political 5th amendment. ” you can’t hold anything against me if I don’t tell you anything.”

jpcpt03 on March 31, 2014 at 5:57 PM

Millennials are uniquely screwed by the law’s generational wealth transfers.

Alligator tears from me. Those of us who knew the disaster Obama would be and tried to tell them, but they voted for him like it was a popularity contest to be homecoming king. Let’s call this lesson tough love and let them pay the bill.

TulsAmerican on March 31, 2014 at 6:35 PM

According to Pelosi, 34 million were uninsured and people were ‘dying in the streets’.

So what’s changed, besides the government spending TRILLIONS they don’t have.

GarandFan on March 31, 2014 at 7:24 PM

Hey Guy, Have you seen this?

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2014/03/31/Obamacare-Real-Enrollment-Just-1-7-of-Uninsured-Covered

So far, Obama has managed to make a 1.7% dent in the pool of previously uninsured Americans. That’s government efficiency for you. Nice work Champ.

Drfeelmobetta on March 31, 2014 at 9:19 PM