Mary Katherine Ham over at Hot Air notes the Obama administration’s health care team does not seem to be tracking the number of people without health insurance, or the number of previously uninsured who now have coverage. You would think the Department of Health and Human Services (HSS) would consider that to be an important benchmark, but they claim they have not been measuring it.
Ham points us to a National Journal post after reminding us the administration kept pushing that “47 million uninsured” figure over-and-over.
How many people signed up directly with insurers?
When HealthCare.gov was broken in October and November, HHS and insurers agreed on “direct enrollment” as a workaround—encouraging people to sign up directly with insurance companies. It’s also an option for people who are too wealthy to get a subsidy to help cover their premiums (the main benefit of using the exchanges), or who had a plan canceled and want to stick with the same carrier. [Gary Cohen, director at the HHS] was asked Thursday how many people have signed up outside the exchanges.
“I don’t think we have done anything to try to collect that sort of data,” he said.
OK, but how many of the people who have signed up at the federal government’s site were previously uninsured?
“That’s not a data point that we are really collecting in any sort of systematic way,” Cohen told the insurance-industry crowd on Thursday when asked how many of the roughly 4 million enrollees were previously uninsured.
The people over at the US Census Guessing Department have been pushing out yearly reports for quite some time. The next one seems to be due in September. How they come up with the figure is – of course – a bit science and a lot of art. We all know these reports are too easily manipulated to tell a story. From the September 2013 report, on page 22.
In 2012, the percentage of people without health insurance decreased to 15.4 percent from 15.7 percent in 2011. The number of uninsured people in 2012 was not statistically different from 2011, at 48.0 million.
Previous reports have the number of uninsured at 48.6 million (15.7) in 2011, 50.0 million (16.3%) in 2010, 49.0 million (16.7%) in 2009, 46.3 million (15.4%) in 2008, and 45.7 million (15.4%) in 2007. (Some of the reported yearly numbers varied slightly from year-to-year as written in the reports.)
It will be quite interesting to see the September 2014 and September 2015 reports. I think someone should ask the Obama administration about the Census Bureau’s previous percentages, and ask they what they expect the 2014 and 2015 percentages to be. What is the goal? The problem of course is the administration will have the ability to “tweak” those numbers as they see fit prior to the release of the information.
As an alternative, the Kaiser Family Foundation does do a regular poll, which again is part science and part art. Question D4 asks… Are you, yourself, now covered by any form of health insurance or health plan or do you not have health insurance at this time? (READ IF NECESSARY: A health plan would include any private insurance plan through your employer or a plan that you purchased yourself, as well as a government program like Medicare or [Medicaid/Medi-CAL])?
The most recent poll from Feb. 17 indicates 14 percent are not covered by health insurance. The January number was 16 percent. This certainly does bode well for the administration as compared to previous percentages – listed below – but there is NO MEASURE of service, cost or quality here. Many may now be enrolled in government insurance programs and some certainly have “insurance” that most wouldn’t refer to as insurance. (Think super-high deductible or critical-care only coverage.)
- Dec. 2013 – 19 percent
- Nov. 2013 – 18 percent
- March 2013 – 17 percent
- Nov. 2012 – 20 percent
- July 2012 – 17 percent
- Jan. 2012 – 18 percent
- Sept. 2010 – 18 percent
I don’t have time to open every one, so this is not an analysis, just some numbers and links to the information if you want to research.