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Ignore the Administration’s Inflated Obamacare Coverage Numbers


Ignore the Administration’s Inflated Obamacare Coverage Numbers
Peter Suderman|Feb. 24, 2014 12:24 pm

In a speech to the Democratic Governor’s Association last week, president Obama touted the success of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion. “We’ve got close to 7 million Americans who have access to health care for the first time because of Medicaid expansion,” he said.

That’s false.

We don’t know how exactly many people have gotten health coverage through Medicaid for the first time as a result of Obamacare, but the actual number is certainly much lower than the 7 million President Obama claimed.

As The Washington Post’s Fact Checker explains—again—the 7 million figure comes from reports counting the number of people who have enrolled in Medicaid since October 1 last year, when Obamacare’s online exchanges launched. But many of those enrollments are in states that did not participate in the law’s Medicaid expansion, and many of those who signed up in states that did participate were renewing existing coverage. Avalere Health, a health consulting firm that has been tracking Obamacare’s implementation, estimates that the number of new enrollees is somewhere in the range of 1.1 to 1.8 million. (And that number counts people who were previously eligible prior to Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion but signed up after the fact.)

That’s Medicaid. What about private coverage? Once again, solid numbers are hard to pin down. But the true number of enrollees is virtually certain to be lower than the administration’s headline estimates.

The administration said earlier this month that, by the end of January, 3.3 million people had signed up for private coverage through the exchanges. But that figure leaves two important questions unanswered: How many people have paid the first premium, a requirement to actually be enrolled in coverage? And how many of those people were previously uninsured?

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