Obamacare: hard at work or hardly working?

While there are 7.1 million interested shoppers for both federally qualified health insurance coverage and Medicaid benefits on Obamacare’s state and federal exchanges, the number of true enrollees – individuals who have paid their first month’s premium for private plans – remains a big unknown at this point in time.

How effective has Obamacare proven to be thus far?  Has the federal health law significantly reduced the number of uninsured?  Chris Conover, Research Scholar in the Center for Health Policy and Inequalities Research at Duke University, offers some insight in his most recent Forbes blog post:

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When CBO originally scored the law, analysts expected it to have reduced the number of uninsured by nearly two-fifths by 2014 alone (all estimates shown are calculated by comparing CBO’s projection of the reduction in the number of uninsured under the law to its projection of the number of uninsured in 2014 without the law).[4]  Within a single year (well before anyone had a clear idea of how many states would set up their own Exchanges or expand Medicaid) CBO analysts had dialed down that prediction to under 40%. By the next year it had shrunk nearly one-fifth more. Then, in the aftermath of the June 2012 Supreme Court ruling which made Medicaid expansion optional for states rather than virtually mandatory, it lowered its prediction to one quarter of the uninsured having gained coverage by 2014.  Today that figure is under 23% and it remains to be seen whether CBO will adjust its expectations even further given that the actual reduction so far this year is only 12.5%.

Clearly, that figure will increase slightly as those given a reprieve from the March 31 deadline finally end up enrolled in plans. Offsetting this, however, will be the expected attrition in enrollments as people fail to keep paying their premiums.



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