Beneath The White House Numbers Game: 71 Percent of Obamacare Enrollment Gains Due to Medicaid

New enrollment data for the second quarter of 2014 reveals how Obamacare enrollment shook out among Medicaid and private coverage. In all, the number of insured Americans increased by 8.5 million individuals. However, according to a new study from Edmund Haislmaier and Drew Gonshorowki of the Heritage Foundation, 71 percent of that gain was due to Obamacare's Medicaid expansion.

While Obamacare enrollment officially ran from October 1, 2013, to March 31, 2014, enrollment was extended into April for a number of states. As a result, new data has just become available for the end of the enrollment period, and the results indicate that many insurance gains were offset by losses in other areas, and much of the increase in insurance coverage was due to Medicaid. According to Haislmaier and Gonshorowski:

  • Individual market enrollment -- meaning enrollment in health insurance plans both on and off of the exchanges -- rose by more than 6.2 million.
  • Employer-sponsored private plan enrollment, however, fell by almost 3.8 million, offsetting 61 percent of the increase in health insurance coverage in the individual market.
  • Enrollment in Medicaid grew by more than 5.7 million in the states that expanded Medicaid. In the states that did not, enrollment in the government health care program grew by more than 355,000 individuals.

Thus, while health insurance coverage -- whether in the private market or in Medicaid -- grew by 8.5 million individuals in 2014, the vast majority (71 percent) of that gain was due to increases in Medicaid. According to the authors, "[T]he inescapable conclusion is that, at least when it comes to covering the uninsured, Obamacare so far is mainly a simple expansion of Medicaid."

Source: Edmund Haislmaier and Drew Gonshorowski, "Obamacare's Enrollment Increase: Mainly Due to Medicaid Expansion," Heritage Foundation, October 22, 2014; Edmund Haislmaier and Drew Gonshorowski, "The Real Story on How Much Obamacare Increased Coverage," Daily Signal, October 22, 2014.

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