Only 53 Percent of Previously Uninsured Obamacare Enrollees Have a Favorable Opinion of Obamacare

The Kaiser Family Foundation has released a survey of a statistically significant sample of people who buy their own insurance. The headline reported by the media was that 57 percent of enrollees in Obamacare exchange plans were previously uninsured. To me, that seems underwhelming. But more on that later. We all know that Obamacare is unpopular. However, it is also unpopular among its beneficiaries — the previously uninsured who have bought (highly subsidized) health insurance in Obamacare exchanges. Only 53 percent of these people have a favorable opinion of Obamacare (p. 22). If that doesn’t make the law politically vulnerable, I don’t know what does.

As to the number of uninsured post-Obamacare: This estimate is getting more mysterious. When looked at from another angle, the survey suggests that Obamacare has had no real effect on the number of uninsured getting non-group (individual) private insurance. Elsewhere, the Kaiser Family Foundation informs us that the number of people with private, non-employer-based, health insurance in 2012 was 15.8 million. We also understand that the most optimistic estimate of the number of people in Obamacare exchange plans is 8.1 million.

Kaiser Family Foundation’s new survey tells us that between 48 percent and 51 percent of the people in the non-group market are in Obamacare exchanges. That is, the total market is estimated to be between 15.9 million and 16.9 million. So, maybe one million people, net, have received non-group coverage due to Obamacare.

On the other hand, the survey reports that 71 percent of the previously uninsured people who enrolled in an exchange plan had been uninsured for two years or more. 71 percent of 57 percent of 8.1 million is 3.3 million. This clearly does not reconcile with the comparison of the number of people in the non-group market in 2012 and in 2014 — unless two million or more people who used to have non-group insurance have lost it and have either received group coverage, lost coverage, or become dependent on Medicaid.

Someday this dust will settle. Wherever it settles, the political future of Obamacare looks shaky.

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For the pivotal alternative to Obamacare, please see the Independent Institute’s widely acclaimed book: Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis, by John C. Goodman.

John R. Graham is a former Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute.
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