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There Is No Real Increase in Insured under Obamacare

Gallup has released the full results of its first-quarter survey of health insurance. It concludes that the proportion of uninsured Americans has collapsed to the lowest level ever: 11.9 percent.

Only the people who have employer-based benefits can be said to be paying for their own health insurance. They decreased 0.9 percentage points in the quarter.

People on Medicaid (which went up 2.1 percentage points) are simply on welfare. Lumping them in with people who have employer-based benefits is like lumping people getting welfare checks and people getting paychecks into the same group of “income recipients.” The respondents whom Gallup classifies as having “a plan paid for by self or family member” (which went up by 3.5 percentage points) are in Obamacare exchanges. Most of their premiums are paid by taxpayers, so they are mostly dependent, not independent with respect to having health insurance.

If we go back and compare the types of coverage in Q3 2013 to Q1 2015, we see that the proportion of those with employer-based benefits dropped from 44.4 percent to 43.3 percent; those on Medicaid jumped from 6.8 percent to 9.0 percent; and those with “self-paid” (actually, heavily subsidized Obamacare) plans spiked from 16.7 percent to 21.1 percent.

Here’s what I do not understand: The proportion of people aged 18 through 64 on Medicare increased from 6.4 percent to 7.3 percent. There are three ways to get Medicare if you are under 65: Receive Social Security Disability Benefits, suffer from End-Stage Renal Disease, or suffer from Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS). I cannot see how Obamacare increased any of these three situations.

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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 Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute.
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