Just about everyone newly insured under ObamaCare is on Medicaid

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Published by: Dan Calabrese on Wednesday October 22nd, 2014

Welfare state.

We all know about the problems ObamaCare has caused - people losing their coverage after being promised they wouldn't, premiums soaring, networks narrowing, prescriptions no longer covered, ER waits expanding, doctors leaving the profession, the web site crashing - yeah, you know all that, but, the Democrats hasten to add, it's all worth it because so many more people are now covered!

Even if a whole bunch of newly insured people justified this fiasco, which it wouldn't, the Democrats have a huge problem with that claim. It's not true. The Heritage Foundation's fantastic Daily Signal has a piece this morning that demonstrates what many of us long suspected: Just about all the growth in the number of those insured has come from the expansion of state Medicaid programs under ObamaCare. The change in those who have private insurance is mostly a wash:

Our analysis of the data is reported in more detail in our latest paper, but our key findings are that in the first half of 2014:

  • Enrollment in individual-market plans (both on and off the exchanges) increased by 6,254,564 individuals.
  • Enrollment in private employer-sponsored group plans declined by 3,788,978 individuals.
  • In the states implementing the Obamacare Medicaid expansion, enrollment in Medicaid grew by 5,716,977 individuals.
  • In the states not implementing the Obamacare Medicaid expansion, enrollment in Medicaid grew by 355,674 individuals.

Applying a little arithmetic to those four key data points yields the following observations:

  1. The drop in employment-based coverage offset 61 percent of the gains in individual-market coverage, for a net increase in private-sector coverage of 2,465,586 individuals.
  2. Total Medicaid enrollment increased by 6,072,651 individuals, with 94 percent of that growth occurring in the states that adopted the Obamacare Medicaid expansion.
  3. The total, net increase in health insurance coverage (private-market and Medicaid combined) during the first half of 2014 was 8,538,237 individuals, but 71 percent of that coverage gain was attributable to Obamacare expanding Medicaid to able-bodied, working-age adults.

It's not as if there was no growth at all in the number privately insured, but it pales in comparison to those who simply hopped onto the welfare rolls. And keep in mind that the federal government is only going to cover the states' costs on this for the first three years, after which the share picked up by the feds declines - not that there's that much difference for the taxpayers, who pay for it regardless.

But there's a bigger picture to consider here. The Democrats' rationale for government health care has always been that something like 47 million people were uninsured, and this was just an unacceptable state of affairs. Everyone needed to be covered, and the private market simply wasn't making that happen so government had to step in!

If all they were able to do was add 8.5 million to the rolls (and that's counting those who haven't paid their premiums and will eventually be lopped off), and they had to scratch and claw to do it, what does that say about the premise that 47 million people were just dying to get health insurance if only they could afford it?

It says it was a load of crap, that's what. Even the expansion of Medicaid, which is nearly free health insurance, was only able to attract 6 million people. You're still looking at nearly 40 million uninsured and apparently not the slightest bit interested in what ObamaCare has to offer. So we got all this disruption of the health care system, for . . . that?

Not too impressive any way you look at it. The unintended consequences were massive and disruptive, and even the progress that was made toward the stated goal was miniscule. Nice job, Democrats. you ruined American health care for basically nothing. Have fun on Election Day.