Obamacare Effect: 17M Americans Newly Covered, Little Impact on Employer Health Plans

The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, has widely expanded insurance coverage among Americans, while causing little change in the way most previously-covered Americans are affected by their employers’ health plans, according to new study from the Rand Corporation.
Researchers estimate that from September 2013 to February 2015, 22.8 million Americans became newly insured and 5.9 million lost coverage, for a net of 16.9 million newly insured Americans.

The Rand study estimates 11.2 million Americans are insured through new state and federal marketplaces created under the Affordable Care Act, including 4.1 million who are newly covered and 7.1 million people who transitioned to marketplace plans from another source of coverage. In addition, among the 12.6 million Americans newly enrolled in Medicaid, 6.5 million were previously uninsured and 6.1 million were previously insured.
“The Affordable Care Act has greatly expanded health insurance coverage, but it has caused little change in the way most previously-covered Americans are getting health insurance coverage,” said Katherine Carman, the study’s lead author and an economist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. “The law has expanded coverage to more Americans using all parts of the health insurance system.”
The new study is the first to examine insurance coverage transitions since the end of the second open enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act.
Rand researchers say the biggest gain in coverage was from employer-sponsored insurance plans, which counters predictions that many employers may quit offering insurance in response to Obamacare. This suggests that “employer-sponsored coverage will remain the nation’s major source of health insurance coverage.”
Other study findings from Rand:

  • Most of the gain in the number of Americans with insurance occurred between September 2013 and May 2014, reflecting the first open enrollment period.
  • Coverage through individual non-marketplace policies declined by 1.9 million and coverage from other sources (Medicare, military insurance and state programs) declined by 10 million over the study period.
  • An estimated 24.6 million Americans moved from one source of insurance to another source of coverage during the study period.

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