Why ObamaCare Will Still Leave 31 Million Uninsured

Michael Cahill is Editor of the Vista Health Solutions blog. He has a degree in Journalism from SUNY New Paltz and previously worked as a reporter for the Poughkeepsie Journal and an editor for the Rockland County Times. Follow him on Twitter at @VistaHealth and @ElectronicMike


the-draft-application-youll-probably-have-to-fill-out-to-get-obamacare-coverageOn May 17th, a day after Congress’ latest attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, Ohio Republican Congressman Bob Gibbs tweeted out an almost true, but little known fact about Obamacare.

His tweet read like this:

“If #Obamacare is fully implemented, 30 million people will still be without health insurance.”

This was news for many people. What does he mean Obamacare will leave 30 million Americans without health insurance? Wasn’t Obamacare supposed to be like universal health care?

In response, PolitiFact Ohio decided to take a look at Rep. Gibbs’ claim. It turns out he was almost right. The number he was looking for was actually 31 million.  What PolitiFact found was a report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predicting that in the post-Obamacare world of 2023, 31 million, non-elderly Americans would still be uninsured.

Admittedly that is a significant decrease, considering that in 2012 it’s estimated that 45 million Americans lacked health insurance. However that number is nowhere near the Obama “change you can believe in” promise of near universal health insurance.

PolitiFact made no attempt to explain the findings of the report. But we will. Let’s take a closer look.

Even with tax credits for policies purchased at the Obamacare state marketplaces, many people will still be priced out of health insurance. The specter of Obamacare “rate shock” is very real, and insurance premiums will no doubt be increasing nationwide next year.

Low income Americans are supposed to be the lucky ones and not pay more than 9.5 percent of their annual income for health insurance if they make between 133 and 400 of the federal poverty line. They’ll also be the ones getting those tax credits to make up the difference between that 9.5 percent and the cost of the plan. In an ideal world this would be enough to convince them to purchase health insurance.

The problem is though that many of these folks also live paycheck to paycheck, and probably won’t be so inclined to drop an extra couple of hundred dollars a month on health insurance premiums (depending on which state they live in). So again the problem with Obamacare is price. Even with tax credits these new comprehensive plans are going to be expensive. Not to mention the added cost of copays and deductibles, which are expected to be substantial in many states.

Clearly these state marketplace plans are not meant for America’s poor, which make up the majority of the county’s uninsured population. For them, Obamacare tried to expand the Medicaid program. But now that mandatory participation in the expansion was struck down last summer by the Supreme Court, the Obama Administration seems to have largely abandoned the poor.

The only thing the administration has done for them is to let them apply for an exemption from the penalty for not having health insurance. Of course that won’t be much consolation when they end up at the hospital.

There’s been speculation that further expanding the Medicaid program would have insured more Americans in the long run than the current system of subsidies and state marketplaces. But instead the Obama administration chose to pursue a complicated model of reform rather than working with what they had. Would the administration’s battle for health care reform have gone smoother if they had chosen to just expand Medicaid? Who knows.

In less than six months the major provisions of Obamacare will become law, and in less than 100 days the state health insurance marketplaces open for businesses. Then we’ll start to see if the CBO’s prediction was correct.

But will it all have been worth it in the end? If the CBO’s forecast does come true, and 31 million Americans are left uninsured, what was the point?

Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.

  • American1969

    More proof that this monstrosity needs to be repealed and destroyed. If we want to have real change, how about TORT REFORM! Malpractice Insurance is one of the biggest reasons medical costs are so high. How about letting people buy across state lines? You know—-increase competition so that prices come down? Duh!
    AHCA was never anything more than a framework to get their hands on your money—-like Social Security and Medicare (all created by Democrats). The American people knew things were bad, but they weren’t expecting this! Now we know what’s in the bill and we don’t like it.
    REPEAL THIS POS!

  • OfficialPro

    The point was to destroy private health insurance and replace it with single-payer.

    • twinelm

      And towards that end these elitist globalists will continue to work tirelessly, systematically destroying our once great medical system to make the “rabble”, which is all citizens except themselves more serf-like than we already are. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be born into the 2013 America as it is so tragically different than the one I was born into 60 years ago. So very sad.

    • mplo

      I disagree with you here, OfficialPro! Obama campaigned for Single Payer while he was a Candidate for POTUS, and then took it off the table the minute he got elected to and took office. Single Payer, although not perfect, would’ve been far better than the present healthcare system that we’ve got right now, and what we’re about to get under Obama.

      • Jim

        Obama DID campaign for single-payer, but the t-pubs shut him down and he compromised with the ACA. So don’t blame him for the compromise.
        And we should have just expanded Medicaid to cover everyone.
        And, after all is said and done, the ACA is modeled after Romneycare, which is working pretty well in MA, and is modeled after the Republican health plan introduced in the 90′s to combat Clinton’s healthcare reform.

        So, basically, the ACA (Obomneycare, really) is a Republican health plan.

        You could look it up.

        • mplo

          I disagree with you, Jim. Obama and the democrats in Congress completely blew the opportunity for a genuine healthcare reform bill that engendered Single Payer with Universal Healthcare/Medicare for All Americans by taking the easy way out and enacting a POS GOP-written, warmed-over 20 year old body of legislature that passes for healthcare “reform”, or the ACA that we’ve got in place right now. Moreover, the Obama Administration allowed abortion rights to be thrown under the bus in order to pass that crappy body of legislature that’s called a healthcare “reform” bill.

  • John P

    Part of the issue here is that the poorest have no tax due, so a tax credit does not pay anything.

  • Zoe2010

    it’s got to take effect before most people will know what’s in it… it’s so stupid… the house has repealed it and repealed it and those bills go to the senate and reid uses them as toilet paper… the dems have a war on the will of the people…

  • NAHALKIDES

    “What was the point?” The point was to take control of health care away from the individual and place it in the hands of government, or if that was not possible, to so burden what remains of private insurance that it would collapse and then allow the government to take over completely at a later date.

    Obamacare was always about power, and never about helping anyone with health care or health insurance.

  • JGeor

    The point is that if we don’t start some system to insure that more Americans are insured every new employer will not provide health insurance and many more will drop it and in ten years we will have 100 million Americans without insurance instead of 31 million.

  • RagingPragmatist

    Most are illegal immigrants, who are not eligible for Obamacare, not Americans

  • GreatUnwashed52

    Well, I’m a disabled person on Medicare and Medicare Part D. I’m grateful to have these . However, this leaves 20% of one’s bills unpaid. I was hoping “Obama Care’s” plan, which states that the income level for Medicaid is being raised, would allow me dual eligibility…no such luck. I am considered a “non-MAGI” patient. As such, I DO NOT get this aid. I am instead, relegated to the $222. monthly spend-down for Medicaid. I can rarely afford this;I have other debts. We all do.

    A health dept. rep I spoke to actually suggested moving to a cheaper part of the country. I suggested perhaps she was suggesting Appalachia. Therein, lies the problem: the framers of this junk legislation have no idea how most of us live. Half of our Congress members are millionaires, out of touch and safely out of reach of the rest f us, the great unwashed.

    Perhaps this plan is really a form of economic Darwinism designed to rid this country of people like me. It certainly seems to be the case.