Georgia Voices: Left rejoicing over Obamacare’s inflated numbers
by The Augusta Chronicle
July 22, 2014 12:00 AM | 1927 views | 4 4 comments | 26 26 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A private foundation issued a report claiming 20 million Americans “gained coverage under the Affordable Care Act as of May 1.” And the left reflexively threw a party.

“The verdict is in: Obamacare lowers uninsured,” says a headline on Politico.

“Obamacare haters, your case just got weaker,” writes The New Republic.

Sorry to be a buzzkill, but the celebration is a little premature. Coverage has increased, but 20 million? That’s a clear overstatement. The actual gains are nowhere near that high.

Had Obamacare cheerleaders more closely scrutinized the Commonwealth Fund’s report, they might not have been so quick to reach for the pompoms.

The foundation arrived at its headline figure by adding together the following groups: the 8 million consumers who selected an ACA marketplace plan; the 6 million who enrolled in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program; the 5 million who purchased a plan directly from an insurer; and the 1 million young adults who gained coverage under a parent’s policy.

The first problem is the report counts all people obtaining health care coverage, regardless of whether they previously had it. That’s not “gaining” coverage — that’s replacing one form of coverage for another. Next, the 8 million people the Obama administration claims signed up for private coverage through the law’s health exchanges includes those who signed up but never paid. It also ignores the number of people who will likely fall out because of nonpayment, but the report can’t necessarily be faulted for that.

As for the Medicaid enrollees, the 6 million figure is technically accurate. But it’s a stretch to claim those numbers as an ACA victory because many were already eligible for Medicaid. They just never signed up until after October. Only someone looking for reasons to pad the numbers would make such a leap.

There’s the 5 million who purchased coverage outside the exchange. They include people who bought plans directly from brokers or insurance companies. Though these plans are ACA-compliant, they may not qualify for Obamacare subsidies. So how exactly can one claim these people are “gaining” cover under Obamacare?

As for the estimated 1 million people younger than 26 who now are dependents on their parents’ plans, some analysts believe the figure is vastly inflated. But even if it was dead-on accurate, Commonwealth’s 20 million figure is still likely off by millions. So pardon us for holding off on ordering party favors until more accurate figures come in.

The true test of whether Obamacare is “working” will be when the exchanges reach a stability point. For the exchanges to work, people — particularly the young and healthy — must enroll and stay enrolled to subsidize health care costs of older people. If too many drop out, premiums will rise to the point where the exchanges collapse. That’s always been the inherent weakness of the Obamacare individual mandate, which is a forced regressive tax on young and healthy Americans to purchase health insurance plans they can’t afford or don’t want so older and wealthier Americans can pay less.

If the law is allowed to stand as-is, many Americans will jettison Obamacare once they discover its inherent flaws make free-riding safer than ever, causing a downward spiral of falling enrollments and rising premiums that ends with the collapse of the entire system.

But if the left wants to declare victory after Obamacare’s first enrollment period and throw a party based on inflated numbers, hey, have a ball.

There may not be too many more reasons to celebrate in the future.

Comments
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why not
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July 23, 2014
The Republican Health Care Master Plan.

1. privatize Medicare

2. de-fund Medicade subsidies to states

3. criminalize abortion"

4. force all Planned Parenthood clinics to shut down

5. make it virtually impossible to file a malpractice law suite

6. stand back and watch the socio-economic chasm between the "haves" and the "have-nots" grow even wider.
anonymous
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July 22, 2014
Republicans should all pray for failure! That's what Republicans do best. Since they offer no alternative people will remain uninsured and use the emergency room or nothing as their primary health resource. Why didn't you do better, why didn't you make more money, why aren't you successful, why didn't you go to college? It's not the American way but it is the Republican way!
Ben Twomey
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July 22, 2014
Please desist with the lie that the GOP offers no alternative to the Obamacare obscenity. They did. It is sitting somewhere in the pile of 40 others bills, including work bills, which have passed the House and which Harry Reid has stacked in his office and refuse to bring to the Senate.

BTW, Republicasn do nto have to pray for OBamacare to fail. It is predestined to do so, not matter how hard the left lies about it and produces phony figures.
anonymous
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July 22, 2014
@Ben Twomey What alternative bill? The "Repeal and Replace" was long ago changed to just "Repeal"! This canard Republicans use about the alleged job bills that they have passed that the "Democrat Senate" refuses to act upon is a complete lie. Eighteen of those so called jobs bills either reduce or eliminate government regulation in nearly every business sector, especially of energy and pollution. Six gives more tax breaks to the same big businesses that are sitting on record profits and not hiring people right now. One is an anti-union bill. In the Republican mind, anti-regulation and tax lowering bills are job bills.

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