Today is March 31, 2014: in theory, the last day you can sign up for coverage under the subsidized Obamacare insurance exchanges. If you’ve been a regular reader of this space, you know that the numbers routinely paraded by the Obama administration regarding Obamacare website sign-ups don’t tell us much about the actual number of uninsured individuals who have gained coverage. A new study from the RAND Corporation indicates that only one-third of exchange sign-ups were previously uninsured.
The RAND study hasn’t yet been published, but its contents were made available to Noam Levey of the Los Angeles Times. RAND also estimates that 9 million individuals have purchased health plans directly from insurers, outside of the exchanges, but that “the vast majority of these people were previously insured.”
The RAND report appears to corroborate the work of other surveys. Earlier this month, McKinsey reported that 27 percent of those signing up for coverage on the individual market were previously uninsured.
Around 1/4 of exchange enrollees were previously uninsured
One important finding of the McKinsey survey was that the proportion of those who had formally enrolled in coverage, by paying their first month’s premium, was considerably lower among the previously uninsured, relative to the previously insured. 86 percent of those who were previously insured who had “selected a marketplace plan” on the exchanges had paid, whereas only 53 percent of the previously uninsured had.
That the Obama administration treats news regarding the Obamacare enrollment numbers as though it represents a triumph heretofore unknown to humankind is nothing short of astonishing. Equally astonishing is the unwillingness of large, traditional media outlets to give wider coverage to these facts and to call out the administration’s spin for what it is.