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Monday, December 5, 2016

The RAND Corporation is out with new Obamacare enrollment numbers today, based on their latest survey of the health insurance market. The key takeaway is that the study estimates a 9.3 million net gain of people with health insurance from September 2013 to March 2014. But there are more nuanced findings to be noted.

There is a significant caveat in the study’s numbers: the sample size of the survey is small, which leads to a large margin of error. The survey has a margin of error of +/- 3.5 million, meaning the enrollment numbers could be as high as 12.8 million or as low as 5.8 million.

The report shows that about 5 million people have gained insurance through the Medicaid expansion. This is slightly smaller than other estimates, but not by much. Furthermore, the number of people who have gained insurance from their employers — 8.2 million; 7.2 million of whom were previously uninsured — is very encouraging for supporters of the Affordable Care Act.

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This number, if proven correct, puts a damper on a talking point used to attack Obamacare. Ever since the Affordable Care Act was passed and upheld by the Supreme Court, conservatives have warned there would be a significant decrease in employer-sponsored coverage (ESC), resulting in a net loss of those with health coverage. The fact that as many as 8.2 million people have gained health insurance under ESC shows an unexpected success story of the Affordable Care Act.

The number of those who gained health insurance through the marketplace lagged, according to the data: just 3.9 million. But just 1.4 million of those who signed up through the marketplace did not have health insurance previously. This number is lower than data released by the federal government, in part because it does not account for the surge in marketplace enrollment in late March.

Nevertheless, surveys like this show the unexpected and beneficial outcomes of the Affordable Care Act. As President Obama and Democrats have touted in the past, a combination of factors included in the law are going to lead to Obamacare’s success.

This study may signal a number of key parts of the law in action for the first time, resulting in a large uptick in the amount of people with health insurance in the United States.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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