When the ObamaCare legislation was being argued in the halls of Congress, several estimates painted it to be the panacea of health coverage. Any and everyone who didn’t have insurance would get it (because, you know, the law forced them to), but now it seems that reality is falling quite short of those promises.
The Census Bureau just released a tally of the uninsured for 2014. As Chris Conover writes in Forbes, “the news is not good for Obamacare.” Census found that the nationwide uninsured rate fell to 11.7 percent in 2014, down from 14.5 percent in 2013. The number of uninsured Americans fell to 36.7 million from 45.2 million in 2013. That means 8.5 million people gained health insurance coverage in 2014.
That 8.5 million figure sounds good, but it is far, far below the expectations the Obama Administration set during the law’s sales pitch. In fact, “around the time Congress passed the bill, the Medicare actuary (at Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services or CMS) had predicted that the number of uninsured would decline by 23.8 million just in its first year alone. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) had been somewhat more cautious, but nevertheless expected Obamacare to reduce the number of uninsured by 19 million in 2014 alone.”
Way, way off.
The 8.5 million number is a more definitive count than other estimates.
Why is the figure so much more definitive? The Census Bureau figures released today that I’ve cited above come from the American Community Survey (ACS), which is based on a survey of about 3.5 million households (about 8.8 million people). In contrast, the NHIS surveys only 87,500 people and all the other surveys focus exclusively on adults, hence cannot provide an accurate population-wide estimate of changes in the number of uninsured. Moreover, these private surveys also are considerably smaller: Gallup surveys less than 44,000 adults 18 and over, Urban Institute samples about 7,500 non-elderly adults, Commonwealth Surveys less than 6,200 non-elderly adults and RAND surveys less than 2,500 non-elderly adults.
It’s also much lower than than left-leaning organizations and pundits claimed. So called “ObamaCare Facts” said “that by the end of the 2014 open enrollment period, 15 million previously uninsured had gained coverage.” That’s nearly twice the actual number.
To CBO’s credit, they did ratchet down their estimates as they saw ObamaCare’s implementation continually sputter and stall. When the Supreme Court ruled that Medicaid expansion was optional, not required as the original law had intended, “CBO estimated that the 2014 reduction in the number of uninsured would be only 12 million, a figure that was reduced to 11 million once CBO analysts observed the chaotic rollout of the Exchanges in fall of 2013 and then eventually to only 10 million by the time open enrollment was largely completed.” ObamaCare still fell short of those reduced expectations, but don’t tell President Obama that.
In an amazing display of ignorance, delusion, or unstoppable political spinning, the President asserted that ObamaCare “is working not just as intended, but better than intended.” His own administration’s estimate of success: 23.8 million. The final CBO estimate: 10 million. The actual number: 8.5 million. How in the world is that a “better than intended” result?
The reality of ObamaCare is that it has been a great disappointment by every measure.