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Why The New RAND Study Tells Us Little About The Uninsured

Timed perfectly to advance the new Obamacare victory dance, the RAND Corporation claims 9.3 million Americans are newly insured.


Timed perfectly to advance the new Obamacare victory dance, the RAND Corporation released a survey claiming to show that 9.3 million Americans are newly insured.

Of course, the media was thrilled to have a number to put on the great success story. Here’s a round up of some of the exposure:

Yep, the verdict is in – and by the prestigious RAND Corporation, no less.

Unfortunately, RAND has lost some of its luster since its 2005 report on Health Information Technology that claimed the United States would save $81 billion a year by adopting such technology. That report was the engine behind the push to enact the $20 billion HITECH Act in 2009 as part of the stimulus program. The report gave advocates a number to rally around, even though the number was cooked up. Last year RAND issued a sort-of apology for it but the damage was done. We are currently flushing that $20 billion down the toilet, just as Great Britain did before us.

RAND used to be a reliable source, but ever since it issued that horrible Health IT “study” it has lost whatever bona fides it once had.

So it is with this new report. Some observations:

  • They chose September 2013 as their starting point. If you look at the Gallup numbers (which we have reported on before) this was the peak of the 2013 surge in non-insurance. In fact, from the end of 2012 to mid-2013 the rate of non-insurance soared from 16.3% to 18%. It was a complete anomaly, likely due to cancellations in anticipation of Obamacare.
  • They say the respondents were made up of “individuals who regularly participate in surveys.” Such people cannot be representative of the population as a whole. Most people avoid participating in surveys if they can. A survey that uses only those people who love being surveyed is skewed by its nature.
  • The idea that employer-sponsored insurance increased by 8.2 million is simply absurd. It cannot be. If anything, the cutbacks in hours and growth of part timers would suggest the exact opposite. Indeed, the monthly jobs numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics says that only about one million jobs were created between September 2013 and March 2014, and most of these were part time. Where did the other 7.2 million come from?
  • Finally, the authors confess to a margin of error of 3.5 million people! This in a report that is looking at (perhaps) 9.3 million newly insured? That suggests zero credibility.

So, RAND continues its slide towards being a political advocacy organization rather than an honest research group. But it doesn’t matter. Obamacare supporters have a new bullet in their talking points – 9.3 million newly insured! That’s all that really counts.