According to the latest reports from the Obama Administration, nine million more Americans are now covered by health insurance than were before the Affordable Care Act passed Congress. Although the Administration prefers to use numbers associated with “access,” which encompasses a greater number of people as it allows the Administration to account for potential applicants as well as actual ones, the “nine million” number has been something of a staple of recent reports, especially as Obamacare premiums climb in most states.
FactCheck.org has routinely questioned the “nine million” number, pointing out that while around two million may have elected to pursue an application through a state or Federal marketplace, a large majority of the newly insured were likely adults and children eligible for the expanded medicare benefits, or young, uninsured individuals now eligible to stay on a parent’s plan until they turned 26 – hardly “new” insurance applicants. According to newly released research from the Heritage Foundation, however, it looks as though an even greater percentage – 97% – of the “newly-insured” are those who benefited from Obamacare’s massive Medicaid expansion.
We were told that 48 million Americans lacked affordable health insurance and something had to be done, but even five years after the passage of Obamacare, 33 million Americans are still uninsured.
If you dig deeper into the actual numbers and realize what really happened with those 9 million “newly insured”, there’s little reason to cheer.
The number of Americans with health insurance increased by 9.25 million in 2014, the first year that two key provisions of Obamacare took place: the subsidies for coverage purchased through the exchanges and Medicaid expansion. And according to recent research by The Heritage Foundation, out of that 9.25 million, “the vast majority of the increase was the result of 8.99 million individuals being added to the Medicaid rolls.”
In other words, over 97 percent of last year’s newly insured Americans were from Medicaid expansion.
Medicaid is designed to assist people who lack the capacity to work, thus making them unable to access employer-provided insurance options, and those who are too poor to afford individual private health care plans. The Obamacare program, however, has expanded those parameters to include the young, the able bodied, and those who are capable of working but choose not to, exploding Medicaid’s ranks and taxing (pun intended) an already at-risk program running straight into bankruptcy. As Kristina Ribali of Uncover Obamacare points out, each dollar spent on those Medicare isn’t designed to serve is a dollar taken away from those who Medicare was designed to help: the truly poor and needy.
Of course, a Medicare expansion isn’t anywhere near ideal – in any way – but it’s interesting that the Obamacare program can, essentially, count as it’s only success a Medicare expansion, something that could have been accomplished without passing a multiple-thousand-page Federal law that has had such a disastrous impact on the way health insurance functions in America. According to the Heritage report, even the parts of the ACA that were supposed to help those in need have failed: while Obamacare counts 4.79 million new enrollments, the same program forced 4.53 million people off their employer-provided insurance, meaning a whopping net 260,000 people were actually served by Obamacare.
It’s no small wonder that the Department of Health and Human Services is rolling back expectations on how many new enrollments to expect for 2015. According to the Heritage foundation’s research, the best they can expect is a massive change from “off-exchange” plans (those offered by employers, or those purchased directly through insurance companies but are not listed on state and Federal exchanges) to “on-exchange” plans. HHS had predicted, intiailly, that 26 million new enrollments would occur by this point in the program’s implementation. They’ve since downgraded that expectation to just over 10 million enrollees at the conclusion of Obamacare’s open enrollment period.