By Robert A. Vella
Today is the last day of the Affordable Care Act’s initial open enrollment period. People who log-in before April 1, 2014 will be granted an additional grace period to complete the process. Despite the botched website roll-out on October 1st, a generally uninformed public, and systematic sabotage efforts by Republicans, Obamacare enrollment numbers are poised to meet or exceed the original projections.
The Los Angeles Times has reported the following:
- Individual enrollments through the various private health insurance exchanges will at least come close to the 7 million figure forecast by the Congressional Budget Office.
- The Rand Corporation has estimated that 4.5 million people have signed up for the Medicaid expansion, and an additional 3 million adults under the age of 27 have received coverage through their parents’ health plans (a provision of the ACA).
Those figures represent a minimum of 14 million Americans now enrolled in Obamacare. Even considering that some of these enrollments were just switching to better plans, that still leaves roughly 10 million more people with health care coverage who didn’t have it before implementation of the ACA (myself included). In 2009, the United States Census Bureau listed 48.6 million people in the U.S. (15.7% of the population) who were without health insurance. Extrapolating that percentage of uninsured to 2014 (the U.S. population has increased by approximately 12 million since 2009 from 305 million to 317 million), there would have been an additional 1.2 million (49.8 million total) uninsured Americans today under the previous system. Therefore, Obamacare has reduced the uninsured rate by about 3% to 12.7% overall (based on 9.5 million newly insured).
The Times article also responded to criticism from conservatives who insist these enrollment numbers don’t address:
- The number of new enrollments which remain unpaid.
- How many of the new enrollments already had health insurance.
- How many of the new enrollments are “young invincibles” (aged 18-34).
- How many individuals with existing plans were cancelled without recourse (a factual inaccuracy).
- The White House arbitrarily manufactured the enrollment numbers for political gain (a factual absurdity).