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ACA Fail Fractal
Obamacare Passes Over the Uninsured

If you were uninsured before Obamacare, you’re probably still uninsured.

The WSJ reports that new analysis of early enrollment data shows that vast majority of those who signed up for Obamacare were already covered under a different plan:

Only 11% of consumers who bought new coverage under the law were previously uninsured, according to a McKinsey & Co. survey of consumers thought to be eligible for the health-law marketplaces. The result is based on a sampling of 4,563 consumers performed between November and January, of whom 389 had enrolled in new insurance.

One reason for people declining to purchase plans was affordability. That was cited by 52% of those who had shopped for a new plan but not purchased one in McKinsey’s most recent sampling, performed in January. Another common problem was technical challenges in buying the plans, which 30% mentioned.

This isn’t the only bad news for ACA enrollments. Sean Trende has an excellent piece arguing that the claim that there are four million “new” Medicaid enrollees is also inflated. The official figures released by the administration on Medicaid include both people who signed up for it for the first time on Obamacare and those who signed up for Medicaid through pre-existing mechanisms. Trende calculates that only ten percent of the new enrollees came through Obamacare, and the rest came through other channels that would have existed even in the ACA never became law. To sum up: most people who have signed up on the individual market already had insurance, and many of the new Medicaid enrollees have nothing to do with Obamacare.

Obamacare was pitched as a way to extend insurance to the uninsured. As of now, it’s simply allowing the already insured to change the kind of coverage they get. Some of this may be voluntary; people think they’ll get a better deal on the exchange. Others, however, were forced onto the exchange by the cancellations that the Affordable Care Act itself imposed. Either way, instead of actually helping the uninsured, the ACA is currently just inducing demand for a different kind of insurance product among those well-off enough to have had insurance already.

This law was supposed to be a huge leap forward in health care policy and the centerpiece of a progressive agenda designed to expand access to health care while reducing costs. So far, it hasn’t fulfilled a single one of these promises, and our broken health care system is just as much in need of radical new reforms as it was before.

The place to start reforming health care is to take on the problem from the other direction: Instead of attempting some sort of federally mandated access that people shirk off because the costs are still too high, even with subsidies, we should do everything in our power to lower prices first. If you lower prices, access will come.

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  • lord acton

    “We should do everything in our power to lower prices first”. Yep. And prepare for the wailing and gnashing of teeth as the sacred cows of the doctors, the hospitals, the pharmaceutical companies and the insurance companies do everything in their very great power not to be gored.

  • Boritz

    I’m not a professor, but TAI is starting to make me wish I were. After reading the nth essay about Obamacare as healthcare reform (It’s the cost. It’s the enrollment numbers. It’s the delivery networks. It’s the “glitches”. It’s the broken promises. It’s the failure to successfully address what it was intended to address) I would love to make this assignment:
    Write a …word essay considering the non-healthcare aspects of the Affordable Care Act with particular attention to the effect on the relationship between the citizen and the state.

    • Andrew Allison

      In 25 words or less, it’s a wealth redistribution project of incredible magnitude.

  • Andrew Allison

    Why, pray tell, would anybody be surprised that the insured who qualify for subsidies wouldn’t switch (at the expense of those who don’t). Why would anybody be surprised, given the exorbitant cost of “ACA” to those not qualifying for a subsidy, that the enrollment is skewed toward those likely to require more care than they’re paying for?

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