ObamaCare drives middle-class families out of the insurance market

ObamaCare drives middle-class families out of the insurance market

- in Analysis, Economy, News, Slider: English
Supporters of the Affordable Care Act -Photograph by Al Drago/CQ Roll Call/Getty

Newly released census data shows a bad outcome for millions of Americans

Those New Uninsured Numbers Are Not Good News For ObamaCare

Health Care: On the surface, the Census Bureau’s report looks like another win for ObamaCare, as the uninsured rate dropped to 8.8% in 2016. But a close look shows that whatever gains ObamaCare was making are over.

The Census report says that, overall, the number of uninsured dropped by 914,000 between 2015 and 2016. That pushed the uninsured rate down three-tenths of a percentage point. It’s being heralded as further evidence that ObamaCare is working, and that Republican efforts to dismantle the program are horribly misguided.

But look inside the numbers. The gains last year were in two areas that have little to do with ObamaCare — employer coverage and Medicare.

Census data show that the number of people getting insurance at work climbed 915,000. That’s hardly a surprise and is not likely related to ObamaCare’s employer mandate, since the number of jobs increased by 2.2 million last year.

Medicare enrollment also jumped by 1.5 million last year. This has zero to do with ObamaCare and everything to do with the baby boom generation hitting retirement.

If anything, ObamaCare was a drag on expanding coverage last year.

Census data show that the number of people buying insurance on their own fell slightly, down 96,000, and the number enrolled in Medicaid dropped by 81,000, from 2015 to 2016.

Given that these two groups accounted for the bulk of the insurance gains in ObamaCare’s first two years, it’s a safe bet that ObamaCare’s ability to make any further gains in coverage were already over before President Trump took office.

The report also shows that the uninsured rate climbed slightly for households with incomes above $50,000. (ObamaCare’s subsidies zero out for individuals who make incomes above 400% of poverty, which translates into about $48,000.)

Keep in mind, too, that the Census data are for last year. More recent surveys show that, despite an improved economy, the uninsured rate is now starting to climb.

Gallup’s survey of the uninsured showed that the share of adults without coverage was 11.7% in the second quarter of this year, which is up from 10.9% in Q1 and higher than it was two years ago.

Gallup’s Zac Auter says that «rising insurance premiums could be causing some Americans to forgo insurance, especially those who fail to qualify for federal subsidies,» and that «the lack of competition could be driving up the cost of plans for consumers.»

Meanwhile, the Commonwealth Fund, which has been a strong supporter of ObamaCare, notes that the uninsured rate of working-age adults (those 19 to 64 years old) climbed by 3 million this year — causing the uninsured rate among this group to go from 12.7% to 14%. It also found a big jump in the number of uninsured among those who aren’t eligible for ObamaCare subsidies.

In other words, ObamaCare is driving middle-class families — who face the full brunt of ObamaCare’s annual double-digit premium hikes — out of the insurance market.

It should go without saying that this is not what President Obama and his fellow Democrats promised when they imposed ObamaCare on the country seven years ago. And these trends are likely to get worse next year, when these middle-class families face still fewer choices and yet another round of double-digit premium hikes.

For millions of Americans, the «Affordable Care Act» is a cruel joke.


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