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Can Anyone Tell How Obamacare Is Doing?

Does Obamacare really deserve credit for making people buy insurance when it caused them to lose it?


I don’t agree with the New Republic’s Jonathan Cohn very often, but in a recent article he said, “everybody should be cautious about making firm pronouncements about how the Affordable Care Act is doing.” Amen to that.

Of course, Mr. Cohn can’t help himself. He uses that reasonable statement as a launching pad for attacking, “…Cruz, Barrasso, and all the other hard-core Obamacare opponents on the right.” He just can’t imagine why these people might be skeptical of Administration claims about enrollment.

And, of course, he didn’t bother admonishing folks like Zeke Emmanuel for declaring recently in the Wall Street Journal that, “At least 12 million have received coverage directly through a provision of the law.”

Zeke was particularly impressed that the Gallup survey showed the percentage of uninsured Americans has plunged from 18% in the third-quarter of 2013 to a mere 15.9% today.  Mr. Cohn also cites that survey.


Neither gentleman bothers to notice that what Gallup really shows is an astonishing spike in the percentage of uninsured in 2013 (see below) In fact, this survey is quite interesting. It shows an increase in the numbers of insured from a low of 14.4% just before Obama took office as the effects of the recession and poor employment numbers took hold. This peaked in late 2011 at 17.5% and was starting to come down, all the way to 16.3% in late 2012, when it suddenly shot up again in 2013 to 18%. This spike is likely the result of pre-Obamacare cancellations.

So, does that Administration really deserve credit for lowering the percentage today, when it also caused the rise last year? In fact, even at 15.9% the Administration has yet to get back to the 14.4% before the President was sworn in to office.

Now, Mr. Cohn writes that Obamacare critics, “are doing what they almost always do when data confounds their previously held beliefs. They are challenging the statistics….” I didn’t realize that it is somehow illegitimate to “challenge (some) statistics” by offering other statistics. I always thought that is what researchers were supposed to do.

But let me offer a mea culpa to Mr. Cohn. I was one of those people who made a “firm pronouncement about how the Affordable Care Act (was) doing.” I fully expected the numbers of uninsured to skyrocket this year.

But that was because I thought the law was the law. I expected that the massive cancellations of group plans throughout 2014 would result in 25 million people previously covered to be wandering in the wilderness this year trying to figure out what to do next.

I had no idea that the law could be changed or delayed with a wave of the imperial hand. Silly me. Today, I have completely lost track of what is still required and what has been delayed. So I have sworn off making “firm pronouncements” of anything having to do with this bucket of porridge known as Obamacare… and I suggest others should, too.