The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released the latest figures on the Affordable Care Act Tuesday. As of the end of February, 4.2 million Americans have enrolled in health insurance through the federal and state exchanges. In February alone, 942,000 enrolled. This was lower than January’s 1.1 million, but since February had three fewer days, the daily sign-up rate equaled that in January.
At the same time, the Gallup organization conducted a poll that indicates the percentage of Americans who are uninsured has dropped. In March the percentage of Americans without health insurance is 15.9 percent, down from 17.1 percent in the last three months of 2013 before Obamacare was rolled out. There is no way of knowing if the drop is due to Obamacare, but it is the first drop in the percentage of uninsured Americans in years. Most of the uninsured are in Republican controlled states.
In addition, HHS reported that an additional 4.4 million have received health insurance from Medicaid or the Children’s health Insurance Program (CHIP) due to Obamacare, which expanded both programs. The number of new Medicaid enrollees may be higher if clients signed up directly with the state rather than through the exchanges. So the total of persons who now have health insurance because of Obamacare is over 8.5 million.
In addition, over 9 million Americans received a rebate from their insurance company last year due to Obamacare. probably the same number will receive a rebate this year. Sadly, most have no clue that they received that check because of Obamacare.
That number would be far greater if 26 states, controlled by Republicans, had not opted out of the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. As a result of partisan politics, Americans in those states are missing out of benefits that other citizens enjoy just because they have Republican governors and legislatures.
HHS indicates that not everyone who enrolled has paid for their policies yet. As many as 840,000 who enrolled have not paid. They are likely to wait until the last moment before the penalty kicks in on midnight March 31st to push the pay button.
Obamacare got off to a terrible start due to the fact the federal website did not work for almost two months. Since it was fixed, enrollments have climbed. Due to the slow roll out, it is not likely that the goal of 7 million enrollees will be reached by the end of the month. It appears that enrollment will be around 5 million. Americans will continue to enroll after the deadline, however.
Senator Ted Cruz told an audience last weekend that Congress needs to repeal “every word of Obamacare.” If they were successful doing that, over 8 million would lose their insurance not counting the 6 or 7 million persons between 18 and 26 who also have health insurance because they can stay on their parents’ policy until age 26 — because of Obamacare.
Republicans harp about the people who received cancellation notices for their junk insurance policies because they did not provide the coverage mandated under the new law. That number was less than a million, but of those only 100,000 would have really lost their insurance. The Obama administration has since allowed those sub-standard policies to say in place for two years, if the policyholders want to keep what they have.
It is interesting, however, why Republicans were so vocal about those 100,000 persons losing junk insurance, but have no qualms whatsoever about taking health insurance away from 15 million Americans with their 50 votes to repeal the law.
Republicans are making the 2014 elections about a single issue — repealing Obamacare. They say that once they repeal it, they will replace it with something. They have put forth no plan so far to replace it with anything but what we had before. Given the fact it took 100 years for Congress to pass health insurance reform, the chances of Republicans doing anything but repealing are near zero. Any plan they put forth will skewed in favor of insurance companies.
If 2014 is about Obamacare, the voters need to ask Republicans what they are for, rather than what they are against. They will find Republicans have no plan. Obamacare was the Republican plan. They hate it because they named it after Obama.