The White House has reported that after the second year of open enrollment in Obamacare as many as 16.4 million people have signed up on the federal and state exchanges. They cite 14.1 million individuals who have signed up on the exchanges themselves and 2.3 million children under 26 who were added to their parent's health plans.

Derived from self-reporting by each state and the District of Columbia, the number of people covered by Medicaid has grown since the beginning of Obamacare by 10 million.  The actual number of additional Medicaid enrollees in the states that expanded Medicaid as of February 2015 was 8.6 million.

Taken together these are remarkable numbers.  Assuming that the White House enrollment numbers are accurate at 16.4 million, when they are combined with the 10 million added to the  Medicaid rolls 26.4 million people have gained insurance!!

These reports are also remarkably misleading. They serve to create false impressions with the general public that the number of uninsured persons is being dramatically reduced.

President Obama in a speech to Congress in September 2009 stated that the central goal of the Accountable Care Act (aka Obamacare), is extending healthcare coverage to the "more than 30 million Americans who cannot get coverage".

Gallup Healthways has reported on the percentage of uninsured in U.S. by quarter for many years.  Their reports have been the gold standard used by both political parties with respect to the number of persons without healthcare insurance in the U.S.

When President Obama made his pronouncement in 2009, Gallup Healthways had reported that there were 39 million uninsured citizens (this excludes uninsured non-citizens ineligible for Obamacare).  The number of uninsured citizens grew substantially between 2009 and the first year of open enrollment in 2013.  In October 2013 just before the first year of enrollment the number of uninsured citizens had grown to 46 million.  After the first year of enrollment Gallup Healthways  indicated that the number of uninsured persons had fallen to 34 million and following this second year of enrollment, Gallup Healthways reported in February 2015 that there were 31.5 million uninsured persons.

With a little math we can calculate that the reduction in uninsured citizens from its peak in 2013 of 46 million to the current level, 31.5 million, is 14.5 million.  The growth of Medicaid accounts for 10 million of the 14.5 million.  This produces a result that only 4.5 million who were previously uninsured citizens have secured commercial insurance through the federal and state exchanges; a remarkable difference from the White House's report of 16.4 million.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently projected that the number of uninsured citizens will decline to 29 million in fiscal year 2019 and return to 31 million in fiscal year 2025.

What can we conclude from this brief analysis:

  • The primary progress in the reduction of the uninsured is attributable to expansion of the Medicaid Program.

  • The public statements about the growth of insured citizens through the federal and state exchanges is vastly overstated.  If only 4.5 million were truly uninsured persons who secured commercial insurance, then 11.9 million of the White House's 16.4 million people secured insurance on the exchanges only because they were forced off their own plans by the requirements of Obamacare.

  • Little progress has been made in achieving the stated goal expressed by President Obama in 2009.  We still have 30 million uninsured persons and are likely to have them in 2025.


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