Economic Growth Improved Health Coverage More Than Obamacare Did

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by John R. Graham,

from NCPA,

The RAND Corporation has published a thorough analysis of Obamacare’s effect on health insurance that should have put an end to the Obamacare success narrative. Unfortunately, too many continue to confuse the effect of the delayed recovery with Obamacare. What the RAND study really shows is that employer-based benefits have been restored as jobs have started to come back.

The headline is that 172.7 million people, ages 18-64, are covered in 2015, versus only 155.8 million in 2013. The number of uninsured dropped by 16.9 million from 42.7 million to 25.8 million, falling from 21.5 percent to 13.0 percent of the population in that age group.

However, the RAND survey examines people insured or uninsured at a point in time, reporting changes from September 2013 through February 2015. The good news is the number of people with employer-based benefits increased by 8 million, from 111.9 million to 119.9 million (The total population is adjusted for death, aging and migration over the period.) Digging deeper, it looks like this improvement would have been much higher, but for Obamacare.

Consider how the uninsured received coverage from September 2013 to February 2015. One conservative talking point is that the reduction in uninsured was more due to Medicaid than Obamacare exchange coverage. That is true: 6.5 million uninsured became dependent on Medicaid, while 4.1 million went on poorly functioning Obamacare exchanges. Medicaid is worse than Obamacare exchanges because Medicaid is total dependence on government welfare. It is wrong to characterize it as health insurance. Obamacare exchanges are funded partially by tax credits and partially by beneficiaries themselves. However, 9.6 million uninsured people received employer-based benefits, which is more than went to either Medicaid or Obamacare exchanges.

That is the best news of all because employer-based benefits are fully paid by employees as trade-offs for wages: They are not subsidized by other taxpayers,

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