White House: 11.4 million Americans enrolled in Obamacare this year

Yesterday, following the February 15th deadline to enroll in marketplace coverage under Obamacare this year, the White House released preliminary estimates showing that 11.4 million people had signed up for private health insurance coverage this year.

Yep, count ’em. 11.4 MILLION. That figure well exceeds the Department of Health and Human Services’ original estimates of slightly over 9 million signups and positively demolishes last year’s total of 6.7 million enrollees.

In other words, it’s a Big. Effing. Deal.

These numbers are only the latest proof that GOP predictions of dropped coverage, crippling premiums and falling skies as a result of health insurance reform were totally unfounded.

Health insurance via Shutterstock

Health insurance via Shutterstock

But of course, we already knew that was the case. Prior research had shown uninsurance rates falling and the cost curve bending. These latest numbers are just a feather in the cap for a government infrastructure and grassroots effort that’s pulled off a marked recovery from the disaster that was the initial HealthCare.gov rollout.

But honestly, without the Republican freakout and warnings of the coming apocalypse, would anyone really be that surprised? Basic economics would suggest that if you mandate that people buy a cheaper product than what was previously available on the open market, more people will buy that product — exactly as the conservative Heritage Foundation predicted.

Also, as one would expect, the effects of the law are more pronounced in states that aren’t actively trying to prevent their citizens from getting covered.

So when reflecting on the relative success of the Affordable Care Act over the course of its implementation, keep in mind two things:

  1. It has beaten expectations
  2. It has done so despite having to drag red states along kicking and screaming

This success also comes in advance of the Supreme Court taking up the King v. Burwell case, in which conservative activists are challenging subsidies on federally-run state exchanges — which, as mentioned above, just insured millions of people — based on what is widely considered a drafting error in the bill, and one that was rectified in other sections of the law, at that.

This is why Republicans are secretly hoping that they lose King v. Burwell. If they win, and millions of people suddenly find that they have bought unaffordable health insurance, conservative activisits who couldn’t stomach the idea of President Obama doing something right will be to blame.

Oh, and the estimated 9,800 people who would die annually as a result of dropped coverage in the event of King succeeding? Those deaths would be on the GOP’s hands.

So tip of the hat to the folks who have worked to insure millions of Americans under Obamacare, but let’s not forget that there’s work still to be done to make sure that those gains are not wiped away while we aren’t looking.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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