April 7th, 2014

Stop the presses: rate of uninsured lowest since late 2008

If this hadn’t happened, now that would have been a shock. After all, if you give Medicaid to a whole new group of people, offer subsidies to a huge number of other lower-income people, and stick everyone else with penalties for not getting insurance, it could be expected that the rate of those without health insurance would go down.

And I don’t recall (although I could be missing something) that anyone on the right was suggesting that the total rate of the medically uninsured would fail to go down as a result of Obamacare. The real questions were and are (a) how much of a dent it would actually make in the uninsured (a figure that was probably somewhat elusive to begin with); (b) at what cost, both in money and disruption; (c) what quality of insurance would be the result; (d) what the effect on our health care system would be over time; and (e) the effect on our liberty.

But anyway, here are the stats are from Gallup. Unfortunately, I can’t find a link to the actual study, and I always prefer to look at the more complete picture, but let’s look at the chart from the summary version:


The first question I have is why the chart only begins in 2008. I did a search for a chart of earlier stats and kept getting that same chart that appears above. I’m beginning to think that Gallup may only have begun asking the question in 2008, but I just don’t know. At any rate, as you can see, in early 2008 the uninsured rate was even lower than it is now. What happened in late 2008 to make the rate rise? It’s pretty easy to guess: the financial downturn, which I am fairly certain had a chilling effect on the number of Americans with health insurance.

I also can’t get figures on the margin of error in the Gallup poll, but the drop here (at least in some sub-groups) may be within it. I happen to think that the overall drop is real, however. It makes perfect sense that the rate would drop, for all the reasons I wrote in that first paragraph, and I would be stunned if it did not.

Gallup also points out that by far the greatest drops occurred in the following categories: people with incomes under $36,000, and blacks. That is completely understandable and expected, as well, because it’s logical to assume that it reflects both the Medicaid expansion and the effect of subsidies (although it’s interesting that—as I’ve read in other sources—there was not a similar drop in the percentage of uninsured among Hispanics).

Here’s the chart:


Unfortunately, the chart only compares the last quarter of 2013 to the first quarter of 2014; I would have liked to have seen it go further back in time for a fuller picture.

How much of the drop involves the Medicaid expansion? How much the fact that the unemployment rate (at least, in the flawed way it’s measured) also dropped between the last quarter of 2013 and the first quarter of 2014? How many of the newly-covered people will continue to be covered a few months from now, and how many will end up defaulting on their payments?

And what are the answers to my questions in paragraph one?

15 Responses to “Stop the presses: rate of uninsured lowest since late 2008”

  1. skullbuster Says:

    “….how many will end up defaulting on their payments?” Answer: A bunch. I’ve been saying this for a long time.
    The drs. and hospitals will end up absorbing a lot of costs because the gov’t will just not give out the info when someone lets their insurance lapse or they will give a 90 day grace period in which a person can run up thousands of medical expenses.

  2. Mr. Frank Says:

    Let me get this straight. After spending hundreds of millions of dollars and threatening people with IRS penalties, greatly expanding Medicaid, and turning the insurance system and health care system upside down, we have reduced the percent uninsured by about two percent. What a crappy deal. What a country!

  3. Mr. Frank Says:

    This reminds me of how the federal government tried to increase the percentage of home owners, and we know how that turned out. Poor folks have poor ways.

  4. parker Says:

    (f) The effect on the overall economy as discretionary spending by the middle class will decline when they pay significantly more on health care due to higher insurance premiums and deductibles.

  5. Don Carlos Says:

    Ah yes, the famous “Adults aged 18 and older”. Not citizens, mind you, just “adults”.. I am so tired of this shit. Gallup could limit their poll to nominal citizens and put up a big flag that said citizenship could not be verified, just as none, yes none, of the other parameters (age, race, income) can be verified either.

  6. J.J. Says:

    “Stop the presses: rate of uninsured lowest since late 2008!”

    Wow, that’s fabulous! Now we can all declare success in making healthcare available to all. Nothing to see here. Move along.

  7. parker Says:

    “Stop the presses: rate of uninsured lowest since late 2008!”

    After 5+ years of struggle and laser like focus the evil of Bush is beginning to retreat into the shadows. Soon VB DAY (victory over Bush) will be proclaimed and BHO will share the stage with the Reverand Al as they barnstorm across the fruited plain on AF1.

  8. SteveH Says:

    Progressives will always choose the image of “helping out” over substance. Now everyone will have insurance with inferior healthcare. Looks amazingly like all the college degrees and the poorly educated.

  9. Roman Says:

    Can the numbers (any numbers) from Chairman O’s administration be trusted? Not by me.

  10. dbp Says:

    So let me see if I have this right: We upended the entire health insurance industry and spent billions of dollars and the uninsured rate is almost as low as when Bush left the White House?

  11. Ymarsakar Says:

    Full Stop. The sea levels have lowered, so sayeth Hussein O.

    Oooooooh Hussein, the Great and Mighty.

  12. Harold Says:

    Everything that the left promotes is a lie, including all the Obamacare numbers.

    They promote ideas and such purely as a tactical matter to achieve and hold power.

    That’s why there is no consistency and positions change and individuals who clearly violate their promoted positions are protected as long a they support the current party line. That’s how the left can support Islamism even though it nominally violates any number of their promoted positions, but it does promote totalitarianism and the defeat of the west.

    And of course Nazism, fascism, socialism, Communism, progressivism don’t EVER work. But the left doesn’t care because it gives them power, the sole reason for their existence.

    Daniel Flynn wrote a book on American utopian societies and groups through our history (A Conservative History of the American Left). One thing to note is that they all have failed. But of course no one on the left cares to take any practical lessons from that fact.

    Unfortunately my faith in the Republican Party and the voting public is very very low so I think we, like Britain with the NHS are going to be stuck with Obamacare for at least the next several generations.

  13. Don Carlos Says:

    I agree, Harold. We are now in the era of oligarchs and a capricious all-powerful ruling class.

  14. Kyndyll Says:

    Late 2008 – Oh, you mean back when most Americans still had decent jobs with benefits?

    Make no mistake The progressive left finds widespread unemployment and underemployment expedient to its goals.

  15. Ymarsakar Says:

    Wait until people see the full power of the Leftist alliance. They’ll be surprised.

    I am amused at many of the comments people write these days at places like NRO. It’s like the frog realizing the water is boiling.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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