Friday, October 3, 2014

HHS Document Reveals That Possibly as Few as 2.3 Million (Not 8 Million) Enrolled in Obamacare

As we posted a few days ago, the federal government has no clue if Obamacare has increased or decreased the number of uninsured. Two of the bureaucracy's central planning agencies had come up with different answers as to the number of uninsured in America. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that 3.8 million fewer Americans were uninsured while the Census Bureau (using a larger and more statistically reliable sample) reported that 1.3 million more were uninsured.

It is, therefore, no surprise that very few people trust the Administration's claim that 8 million enrolled in Obamacare.  Based on my research, taking into account normal enrollee non-payment attrition and extrapolating from insurer estimates, I projected that number to be closer to 5.5 million.  Well, it looks like I may have been too generous - far too generous.

HHS just released a report on the reduction in uncompensated care for hospitals under PPACA.  And that report makes some very intriguing claims.  This is from the bottom of page 1 of the just released Health and Human Services issue brief on the Impact of Insurance Expansion on Hospital Uncompensated Care Costs in 2014:

For purposes of this post, I'll set aside the fact that we have now had three different federal agencies publish three different uninsured estimates in the last month:

  • The Census Bureau (probably the most accurate due to larger sample size) projected that 1.3 million more Americans are now uninsured; 
  • The CDC claims that 3.8 million fewer Americans are uninsured; while 
  • HHS claims that 10.3 million fewer Americans are uninsured.  

Even if we take HHS at its word and accept that 10.3 million fewer Americans are uninsured.  This latest report illustrates another eye-opening fact.  Of those 10.3 million more Americans with coverage, we also see HHS's declaration that 8 million of those went into Medicaid (not Obamacare).

That leaves only 2.3 million more people who likely enrolled in Obamacare.  Medicaid is the lowest grade of medical coverage one can have in the United States.  It is so bad that a recent study found that having it was worse than having no coverage at all.  The study on Oregon’s Medicaid program by Baicker and colleagues in the NEJM in 2013 (and, more recently, Avik Roy’s short treatise “How Medicaid Fails the Poor”) found that Medicaid enrollees fared no better in terms of health outcomes than those without insurance.

Now, certainly there is another segment of people who lost their individual or employer plans and were dumped into Obamacare.  Those people would have shown up as insured prior to and during 2014.  But it hardly seems fair to count them as Obamacare success stories.  These are the people who couldn't keep their plan despite the President's promises and are now saddled with provider networks that are 25 to 50 percent smaller than the ones they would have had on an employer or individual plan.
Jack and Joe covered this story on today's Armstrong and Getty Show.  Here is the audio from that segment.

Click here to hear the story on "abusive conduct" in California workplaces referenced toward the end of this audio segment.