3 Big Obamacare Numbers to Start Off the New Year

Where things stand as the law goes into effect

The Atlantic/Reuters

The big news from the Department of Health and Human Services and from Congress as 2013 drew to close is the number of people who are poised to benefit from coverage under the Affordable Care Act as the new year begins.

  • More than 2.1 million have enrolled in private-sector health insurance through the state and federal exchanges. This is more than a million people short of projections for the first three months of open enrollment and doubtless reflects the fact that the federal Healthcare.gov website was only truly functional for about one of those three months. But it also represent an astonishing recovery by the program from its original disastrous launch, raising hopes that it might even make the original goal of enrolling 7 million by the end of March 2014. One caveat: It's still unknown how many of the enrollees were previously uninsured, as opposed to people who were already insured in the individual market and just used the exchanges to get new plans.
  • 3.9 million people were determined eligible for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program during just October and November, though it's unclear how many have enrolled yet. Still, that's a big number for only the first two months of determinations, before interest in enrollment had its big surge in December. That number would have been much, much bigger, if not for the Supreme Court decision that allowed states to opt out of expanding the federal health insurance program for the poor. Two of the states with the most uninsured, Texas and Florida, opted out of expanding Medicaid eligibility.
  • Only 10,000 people whose individual-market plans have been cancelled or slotted for cancellation under the Affordable Care Act will be unable to get affordable insurance going forward, according to a new report from Democrats on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. That's "0.2 percent of the oft-cited 5 million cancellations statistic," The Plum Line noted. The vast majority should be eligible to stay on their existing plans, thanks to the administration's last-minute fix to permit this, or get subsidies through the exchanges, according to the report. The rest should be able to obtain affordable catastrophic-care plans, according to the congressional staffers. Still, there are bound to be enough people who previously had something better among the nearly one million people the report says could at least get catastrophic care plans that concerns and objections will continue into the new year. But the specter of a massive increase in uninsurance due to the Affordable Care Act seems unwarranted, the report makes clear, because that projection fails to take into account the variety of insurance options now available.