The survey, drawn from a small but nationally representative sample, indicates that this significant uptick in insurance coverage has come not only from enrollment in the new marketplaces established under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but also from new enrollment in employer coverage and Medicaid.That's a 23 percent drop in the share of uninsured American adults, and doesn't include the late March surge of people signing up through the exchanges. Poking yet another hole in Republican talking points, the survey finds that 5 million people did not lose their insurance because of Obamacare, not even 1 million did. RAND says 700,000 people went from the individual market to being uninsured. That's not an insignificant number in human terms, but it's also not the disaster Republicans have insisted it is.
Put another way, the survey estimates that the share of uninsured American adults has dropped over the measured period from 20.5 percent to 15.8 percent. Among those gaining coverage, most enrolled through employer-sponsored coverage or Medicaid.
Remarkably, as many as 8.2 million—most of whom were previously uninsured—enrolled for the first time in employer-sponsored plans. Why this happened isn't entirely clear. The individual mandate could have spurred people who had previously opted out of health insurance benefits to see a fatter paycheck to sign up. The law could also have led employers to end the option for employees to opt out of benefits. Economic recovery—more people employed—might count for some of this. Tax credits to small businesses to provide health insurance might also, but that provision has been in effect for more than a year, so it probably can't account for the dramatic recent increase.
But any way you slice it, more people have insurance now than did before the law was fully implemented. And here's an interesting twist RAND also found, consumers might just find their car insurance bill get a little cheaper. RAND estimates that liability costs for car insurance and workers' compensation could be reduced. "For both first-party (1.4 percent) and third-party (1.7 percent) car insurance, RAND projected a decrease in liability costs. Workers' compensation costs are also estimated to decline by 1.4 percent." That's not a lot, but it's an interesting ripple effect of millions of more people having health insurance.
But Kaiser Family Foundation's Larry really makes the most salient point about this study and the others released this week: