Study Shows Number of Newly Insured Increased By 5.4 Million As Of Early March

Despite favorable numbers on Obamacare enrollment, many Republicans continue to try to deny the positive results. Two common questions brought up are the number paying their premiums and the number of newly insured. Yesterday I pointed out that those claiming that as many as twenty percent are not receiving coverage due to not paying their premiums are incorrect because often the estimates are made prior to premiums actually being billed or due and as many of the people who drop insurance obtained through the exchanges wind up receiving other coverage. In addition to previous estimates, The Urban Institute’s Health Reform Monitoring Survey (HRMS) estimates that the number of uninsured adults had fallen by 5. 4 million before the surge in enrollment in March . Their survey was concluded on March 6. NBC News reports:

More than 5 million Americans who didn’t have health insurance before have been able to get coverage since September, according to a new report released Thursday.

The report seeks to answer one of the big questions surrounding the government statistics surrounding the law known as Obamacare — how many people have gained health insurance under the new rules? Early statistics had suggested that many of the people who rushed to buy the plans available on the new health insurance exchanges were just swapping out of other coverage.

But the new report suggests the law is having its intended effect of getting people covered who weren’t before.

“This represents a major step forward for 5.4 million previously uninsured people who now have health coverage,” said Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, president and chief executive officer of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which issued the report along with the Urban Institute.

The report shows that 15.2 percent of Americans were without health insurance as of the first week in March, a drop of 2.7 percentage points since September 2013.

The Obama administration says at least 7.1 million people signed up for private health insurance on the online, health insurance exchanges that opened up in October. Close to three million signed up in March alone, the last month for open enrollment, which is now closed.

Separately, the Obama administration says anyone who started to sign up and wasn’t able to finish by the March 31 deadline has until April 15 to finish.

The exchanges are the centerpiece of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, which seeks in part to get coverage to the 47 million Americans who lacked it as of 2013. The Congressional Budget Office projects that 26 million people will buy health insurance on the exchanges by 2022 and that 12 million people will become newly eligible for Medicaid in the states that choose to expand their offerings by 2022.

So far 26 states, plus the District of Columbia, have decided to offer Medicaid to more people as requested under the law. The report issued Thursday doesn’t include any separate estimates of how many people this might be, and also doesn’t include young adults added because of a provision allowing people to stay on their parents’ health insurance up to age 26.

“The survey does not capture the enrollment surge that occurred at the end of the open enrollment period,” the report adds — that would be the 3 million or more people who signed up in March.

This shows that the number of uninsured has already been falling before the March surge, when Republican critics of the ACA were claiming that most of those signing up for coverage were people who had previously been dropped from their health care plans. The percentage of uninsured will drop further as those enrolling in March and April are included, along with those obtaining expanded Medicaid coverage throughout the year.

Cross posted at The Moderate Voice