ObamaCare was intended to increase the number of Americans with health insurance. It is thus far failing to achieve the numbers of newly insured they had hoped, but there are more people now with health insurance than there were before the law was passed in 2010.
There have been different enrollment numbers released by the White House and the insurance industry. After initial claims of enrollment of over 8 million, the latest numbers from the Obama administration revealed in August said 7.3 million were newly enrolled in ObamaCare.
According to a new study from the Heritage Foundation, the number of insured Americans increased by 8.5 million. However, 71% of the increase comes from expansion of the rolls of Medicaid. According to the study:
- Individual market enrollment – meaning enrollment in health insurance plans both on and off of the exchanges – rose by more than 6.2 million.
- Employer-sponsored private plan enrollment, however, fell by almost 3.8 million, offsetting 61 % of the increase in health insurance coverage in the individual market.
- Enrollment in Medicaid grew by more than 5.7 million in the states that expanded Medicaid. In the states that did not, enrollment in the government health care program grew by more than 355,000
Since half the states rejected the ObamaCare offer to expand Medicaid in their states, this high percentage of new enrollees in Medicaid is surprising. But a testimonial from a general surgeon in Arizona explains what is happening.
Dr. Jeffrey A. Singer, from Phoenix, writes in The Wall Street Journal that Medicaid is stealing patients from private insurance – without their consent. He tells of many of his patients who were forced into Medicaid when they tried to renew their private health insurance on the exchanges. He says this experience is not unusual and a recent Boston University/Harvard Medical School study backs him up.
The study reveals that up to 80% of people participating in ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion have been shifted off their private insurance. These patients’ plans did not meet ACA requirements and were therefore cancelled. Despite the fact that the patients liked their plans, they were forced into accepting Medicaid because that was all that Healthcare.gov offered them.
Therefore, many of those newly enrolled in Medicaid are not newly insured. They lost private health insurance due to ObamaCare and now can only be insured by Medicaid. Now they’re trapped in an inferior health care system.
Medicaid Is Inferior Healthcare
If you’ve followed this blog for long, you know that Medicaid is inferior healthcare insurance. Numerous studies have demonstrated that Medicaid patients must wait longer to see doctors and have poorer healthcare outcomes. Medicaid patients were twice as likely to die in the hospital after undergoing major surgery than those on private insurance, according to a 2010 study from the University of Virginia. Patients who had no insurance at all were 25 % less likely than those on Medicaid to have an “in-hospital death,” and Medicaid patients have the longest stays and highest hospital costs. The situation was bad before ObamaCare but now it is getting worse.
Today only 45% of doctors are accepting new Medicaid patients, according to a recent survey by the healthcare company Merritt Hawkins. This number has dropped from 55% in the past five years. In some cities – Dallas and Minneapolis, for example – as few as 23% of doctors are seeing new Medicaid patients. This means longer waiting times to get appointments for primary care – and even longer waiting times to see a specialist. This problem will only get worse with the increase of the number of Medicaid patients seeking care from a declining number of providers.
Medicaid is so poor that some have argued it is worse than no insurance at all. It is true that those without insurance can see a doctor sooner by negotiating a discounted cash rate. An Oregon study showed a 40% increase in emergency room visits when the uninsured are placed on Medicaid, probably because of this difference. But there can be no doubt that Medicaid is worse than private insurance, which many people had before ObamaCare forced them into Medicaid.
The authors of the Heritage Foundation study, Edmund Haislmaier and Drew Gonshorowski, conclude: “The inescapable conclusion is that, at least when it comes to covering the uninsured, ObamaCare so far is mainly a simple expansion of Medicaid.”
The goal for ObamaCare was to solve the problem of uninsured Americans by providing insurance for those previously uninsured. Forcing people with private health insurance into Medicaid is no solution at all.