Galluping Away with the Uninsured

GallupGallup has released a teaser for its quarterly update of health-insurance coverage. Although the polling firm released only one datum (that the rate of uninsured fell to 12.3 percent in the first quarter from 12.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014) this was enough for President Obama to send forth a victory tweet.

Not so fast: As the press release itself notes, a large proportion of the newly “insured” are not actually insured, but on Medicaid. Medicaid is a welfare program. Consider the question: “Do you have health insurance coverage?” It is as if people receiving cash welfare payments answered the question, “Do you have a job?” in the affirmative.

I expect that when Gallup releases the full quarterly survey in April, my criticisms from January will remain substantially unchanged. Indeed, I expect that the 12.3 percent uninsured estimate might grow a little, because many of those who answered “yes, I am insured” in February had likely signed up for Obamacare coverage but not yet paid premiums. By April, those who signed up during open enrollment but not paid premiums will become uninsured again.

Comments (7)

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  1. Perry says:

    I’m curious as to exactly how many new Americans are privately/exchange insured vs. Medicaid insured.

  2. Big Truck Joe says:

    If a majority of these newly Obamacare insured are simply being put on Medicaid, I wouldn’t call that successful at all. They could have simply lowered the requirement to get Medicaid and protected the rest of the country from the legal abomination that is Obamacare.

    • John Fembup says:

      Joe that’s a great point.

      Prior to Obamacare, Kaiser Family Foundation released a study documenting that about 2/3 of all the uninsured were under age 65 and earned less than 2Xs the federal poverty limit. In other words, the clear majority of the uninsured were already eligible for Medicaid but were not signed up. Changing the Medicaid eligibility, as you suggest, would obviously have included more than 2/3 of all the uninsured.

      Medicaid is the federal-state government welfare program expressly established to cover the poor. It is no small irony that Medicaid had so clearly failed to achieve its mission.

      So what was the governmen’s remedy? Naturally, to establish a new, and far more intrusive, extensive, and expensive government welfare program in the apparent belief that covering 320 million people would be successful even though the governmen’s express program only for the very poor was a failure.

      I agree Obamacare was not necessary to solve the uninsured problem. Instead, I believe Obamacare is an instrument designed to achieve a very different government objective while pretending to be about “health care”. I can scarcely contain my enthusiasm.

      • Brian A says:

        John – ACA only covers about 10 million people and they weren’t sitting oa shelf someplace.. They just were being over-charged for their care.. No one chooses to be sick that I know.. PLus Many people rotate off and on coverage..

        BTW the private sector won and forced the government to subcontract it to the private sector (Blues administer most plans) not a new government welfare plan to cover 320 million.

        The plan with the lowest administrative overhead is for seniors (Medicare) and no one seems to want to get rid of that?

        Is your proposal to have everyone just pay for their own healthcare? 1/3 of all bankruptices are due to medical bills already..

        You are both right though. all of the states should expand Medicaid coverage or

        • John Fembup says:

          ” not a new government welfare plan to cover 320 million.”

          I think you are not considering the long game that many senior Dem officials and bureaucrats have been quite open about from the beginning. ACA is just the next sep toward a universal single-payer plan, that will function more like welfare than any recognizable insurance arrangement. In a welfare plan, no one pays for their own healthcare. That’s my opinion of what is under way with ACA. You seem to have a different opinion. Time will tell.

          “The plan with the lowest administrative overhead is for seniors (Medicare) and no one seems to want to get rid of that?”

          First of all, the administrative cost for original Medicare (part A and Part B) is not less than private group insurance and may well be more. Not hard to demonstrate. Admin cost in private sector policies is higher than Medicare only in the individual and small group segments, which historically covered relatively few Americans anyway. But the really important response to your remark is that admin cost is a small percentage of the total cost regardless and is by no means the reason anyone chooses their insurance. People choose insurance based on extent of coverage and total cost – their premiums plus their direct out-of pocket costs. And the sad fact is, the cost of original Medicare benefits is grotesque, particularly in relation to original Medicare’s skimpy benefits,

          It’s true that a starving man would not want to give up a hot dog, if that is the only food he has. Original Medicare is that hot dog; but don’t try to persuade a knowledgeable senior that’s a good meal. My opinion? People cling to original Medicare only when they have no better choice. But millions of seniors today do have a better choice – Medicare Advantage. And 15 million of us – almost 1/3 of the Medicare-eligible population – have chosen Medicare Advantage over original Medicare precisely because these plans are superior to original Medicare.