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October 10, 2017

Obamacare Hasn't Expanded Individual Health Coverage


Democrats have put the country through years of political, financial and health insurance turmoil in order to create an individual health insurance market that they boasted would attract millions of uninsured Americans. And yet four years into the Affordable Care Act experiment, the number of people with individual health insurance coverage hasn’t changed—and may have actually declined.  

The U.S. Census Bureau reported that 17.8 million people bought their own health coverage in 2000. It was 19 million in 2005 and 18.9 million in 2010, the year Obamacare became law.*  

So how many purchase their own health coverage now? 

In October of 2016, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reported that 10.4 million people had bought individual coverage on Obamacare exchanges, and another 6.9 million people bought off-exchange coverage. That’s 17.3 million total with individual coverage.  

And a new analysis by Mark Farrah Associates echoes that number for 2017—17.6 million people with individual market coverage, both in and off the Obamacare exchanges. 

But while the number with individual coverage has remained roughly the same for more than a decade, the composition has changed. Current enrollees include more people with preexisting conditions who might not have been able to obtain coverage and others who couldn’t afford it prior to Obamacare. 

However, it excludes millions of people who had pre-Obamacare individual coverage they liked, paid for themselves and wanted to keep but have now been priced out of the market or have little or no choice of insurers or providers and so dropped out.  

Had Democrats simply wanted to solve the problem of preexisting conditions and help lower-income individuals afford coverage, that would have been a pretty easy fix and would have had bipartisan support.  

But Democrats didn’t want to solve the problem; they wanted to break the system so they could “fix” it based on their redistributionist vision. In the end, all they did was break it. 


*The Employee Benefit Research Institute tracks Census Bureau surveys over time. The Census Bureau changed its methodology in 2013, which increased the number counted in the individual market and making comparisons with previous years difficult.



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