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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  • BlueIdaho

    Before the ACA i was paying $570 a month for healthcare. I now pay $110 a month for better coverage. Maybe it is not for everyone but it sure works for me. :)

  • Bill_Perdue

    What I mean is that you’re not for revolutionary change and prefer the system as it is. The system is not democratic, it’s characterized by the rule by the rich, a kleptocracy, or oligarchy or state run by and for an economic mafiosa.

  • emjayay

    When exactly did I do that? I’d prefer that people don’t make stuff up about me, not that it matters.

  • emjayay

    Most people have group insurance through their job so the ACA does not apply to them.

  • MoonDragon

    Reality isn’t the strong suit of many Americans. That’s why framing has worked so well. It’s time to frame back.

  • Bill_Perdue

    Correct.

  • Bill_Perdue

    Considering your willing acceptance of the kelptocracy who rule the US that seems unlikely.

  • Bill_Perdue

    Wrong again. “Obama embraces the term ‘Obamacare’.” http://content.usatoday.com/communities/theoval/post/2012/08/obama-embraces-the-term-obamacare/1#.VOZ0u_nF-Sp

    Obamacare is Romneycare and has it’s origins in the health ‘care’ program of the Heritage Foundation.

  • Don Chandler

    You know, around the time aca was being considered and nearly rejected, the healthcare industry raised the price of various policies and I remember Diane Feinstein’s feigned outrage and calls for a committee to investigate affairs. Shortly thereafter, aca was passed. It was mocked up. Diane Feinstein also told Americans to “get real”. She was telling us to take what we could get. Lieberman was also obstructing things. These reps were owned by special interests….insurance companies.

    I know ACA is in the right direction, but considering that the senate was 60/40 dems and the house was majority dems and the pres was dem, progressives got a raw deal. Should we be happy? NFW.

  • AdmNaismith

    F*ck the ACA. I still can’t afford the health insurance offered, and I’m not allowed a simple catastrophic plan for some reason.

    It’s still cheaper for me to go to the local emergency Clinico for the minor health annoyances than attempt to buy and use health insurance.

    The CA website says that I’m supposed to put out 12k a year in health expenditures (premiums & out-of-pocket. F*ck- if I had that much extra cash a year I prob wouldn’t need the marketplaces. But just paying the ACA premiums would put me into bankrupcy, nevermind the forced out-of-pocket expenditures.

    If Obama had the backbone he suddenly found in the past 6 weeks, we might at least have a Single-Payer option right now, instead of nothing but inflated prices on piss-poor private insurance.
    I’d settle for a medicare buy-in at 45yrs.

  • emjayay

    Thanks for that comment and saving me from having to write it myself.
    If a person lives in a Kaiser Permanente area, they can experience quasi-socialized medicine right here in the USA. I had Kaiser when I was in their areas. I think there are other such deals in some places as well.

  • emjayay

    I for one can hardly wait for the dictatorship of the proletariat.

  • emjayay

    Workers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains!

  • emjayay

    I once directed a one act play called “Forest Lawn.” A line from it (among others)that became a common phrase around the theater was ‘If, if, if! Your whole life stutters with if!

  • emjayay

    It’s called ACA. Democrats should have found a snappy name for it, but Medicare was already taken. “ObamaCare” was invented by Republicans to associate the program with the illegitimate imposter Muslim president from Kenya. That’s the actual reason.

  • emjayay

    No, as much of a Rube Goldberg contraption as it is, ACA is a huge compromise in the RIGHT direction.

  • emjayay

    I had fee for service, then Kaiser trad HMO, then Aetna federal HMO, then Medicare Advantage. I like Medicare Advantage a lot better than trad Medicare parts plus prescriptions. It’s about the same as Aetna federal HMO. Far simpler and cheaper.

  • Not disagreeing with you at all. It’s still obscene what it costs now for healthcare. I remember both prescriptions and doctor visits in India costing an absolute pittance.

    But I live in America. I could conceivably drive to Mexico for healthcare, but it’s not realistic on an everyday basis. I want single-payer healthcare, but we are not going to get that here, not anytime soon. Right now, we have the ACA…or the GOP plan is to go back to the situation immediately before it, with pre-existing condition denials, no limit on medical cost spending ratios, and so on.

    I may want a pony. But I’m not being given that choice. The parents have said, “You can have this crappy bike or nothing at all.” I’ll take the crappy bike. (And see if there is some way I can still get the pony, too. In the meantime, I’m keeping the bike.)

    The Powers That Be have, for now, decreed we can either have the Dem-supported ACA or the GOP “Get Sick & Die” plan. Right now there is no other realistic alternative. Repealing the ACA isn’t the answer, nor is it the final destination, not by a long shot. But giving the Republicans what they want, a return to the situation just before ACA, would be worse than keeping it.

  • You’re going to love it there. Once the culture shock wears off, anyway. :)

  • Way less than perfect, but if you were in any other civilized nation, you’d be paying around half that – give or take – for a higher level of care, with generally superior outcomes. And everyone would have an equal opportunity for the same care, instead of millions of people being left out in the cold for no reason other than they were inconvenient to the health care lobby. Not that I’m telling you anything you don’t know.

  • FLL

    From your reply:

    …but the socialist left you seem to think will revolt any day now and somehow manage a bloodless democracy-restoring coup disappeared when Reagan took over.

    I’ve somehow missed the part in Bill’s writing where he calls for a turn of events that is “democracy-restoring.” Exhibit A (one of many) from one of Bill’s very recent screeds (only three posts before this one, link here):

    “Railroad owners, like all owners and managers, are not useful in any way.”

    I’m sure I’m reading that line correctly when I interpret it to mean that Bill envisions an end to private enterprise (including your own company, Becca), which could only come about with the establishment of a one-party dictatorship. Nothing democracy-restoring there. Democracy-restoring might be your ideal, and it might be my ideal, but I’m very sure that it’s not Bill’s ideal, based on his comment history.

  • FLL

    I had healthcare through my employer when I worked in the publishing/printing industry. That ended in 2008 when I got a master’s degree and started teaching ESL at colleges—50% at one college and 50% at another. I never regretted it, but no healthcare for adjunct (part-time) professors. I haven’t minded not having health insurance because I’ve always been healthy, but the pay isn’t good enough anymore to pay the mortgage… so off to South Korea I go (where the colleges and universities will be happy to pay for your healthcare). No, I haven’t enrolled in Obamacare because the premiums would be far more expensive than the penalty. South Korea, here I come (probably fall semester). Let Bill know that there isn’t any censorship of sites like Americablog in South Korea, so I’ll stay in touch. LOL. Yes, socialized medicine would be better, and political change almost always happens incrementally. Now tell me how Bill is going to set up a dictatorship of the proletariat when the union that he himself belongs to (TCU/IAM, Las Vegas NV – railroad, mass transit and airlines) passionately endorsed Obama in both 2008 and 2012.

  • Bill_Perdue

    Such pessimism is a form of the politics of acceptance. Fighting for change, on the other hand, is not ‘starry eyed idealism’. In the real world low wage, low hour workers don’t have any choice. No do those whose unions were busted by Obama, Walker and other scabs. In the same real world those who oppose racism, misogyny, racism, wars of aggression and killer cops have no choice but to fight.

    Most don’t have the luxury to accept capitalism. Socialism is not on the immediate agenda and I’ve never claimed it was. Disabuse yourself of the that assumption. Pretending that ‘Der Tag’ is on the immediate horizon is foolish and I never have. Nor do I believe for a minute that the right – Democrat and Republican politicians and officials – will refrain from violence. They’ve been on a rampage here and abroad for 200 years and they’re not going to stop now. All violence comes from the right.

    Increasing numbers of workers don’t vote because they don’t accept the value of either lesser evil parties. Why should they? They’re not dumb as many Democrats or Republicans claim when the vote goes against them.

    What we are doing is building the socialist movement, which is growing as fast as it did in the 1930s and 1960s and at the same building the labor left around organizing in fast food, big box stores. And so is the fight for $15.00 an hour. That and full time jobs are the central fights of workers here, in Europe, capitalist Russia and in many Arab and muslim countries although specifics differ.

    No starry eyed idealism there, just necessity and determination.

  • Not in America they won’t. Bread and Circuses, Bill. The oligarchs know what they’re doing, setting the poor against each other, stoking the flames of xenophobia, while keeping everyone distracted with pointless BS.

    I’d be overjoyed for you to be right and me to be wrong, but the socialist left you seem to think will revolt any day now and somehow manage a bloodless democracy-restoring coup disappeared when Reagan took over. Nixon was the last president who by any objective standards could be considered at all ‘left’ of center (and we know how he turned out).

    Americans can barely be stirred even to vote much less start rejecting the steady diet of “lesser of two evils.” We’ve had forty years for the liberal left to fight for ‘The Real Thing’ — and all we’ve gotten is that slogan co-opted by the Coca-Cola corporation to sell their flavored corn syrup.

    Dream on, Bill, and more power to you, but I don’t have the time for starry-eyed idealism anymore.

  • Bill_Perdue

    The left will fight for the real thing, against wars, for the Bill of Rights and for a decent minimum wage.

  • Bill_Perdue

    Single payer is a step towards and compatible with socialized medicine and the variety I prefer is the kind practiced in Cuba, the kind with a conscience.

    Why Cuba Is So Good at Fighting Ebola – It’s the only country besides the U.S. to send substantial human resources to West Africa http://time.com/3556670/ebola-cuba/

    “Cuba leads fight against Ebola in Africa as west frets about border security The island nation has sent hundreds of health workers to help control the deadly infection while richer countries worry about their security – instead of heeding UN warnings that vastly increased resources are urgently needed”http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/12/cuba-leads-fights-against-ebola-africa

    The problem with single payer/Medicare for all/socialized medicine is not the press and it’s not a lack of interest by working people. It’s the propensity ofpolitical prostitutes like Obama and both parties in Congress to make the rich richer at our expense. Feel free to continue to invent excuses for them.

    “And it was the best we that the capitalist insurance and pharmaceutical companies could get at the time.”

    Bernie Sanders is not a socialist, he’s a social democrat and a zionist. The
    left is defeating Democrats on the West Coast and in the Midwest and is organizing everywhere. Chicago Teachers Take On Rahm Democrats – The Chicago Teachers Union and its allies are making a bid to channel the spirit and unity of the teachers’ 2012 strike into unseating “Mayor 1%” and his city council allies” http://www.labornotes.org/2015/02/chicago-teachers-take-rahm-democrats

    You already know about the big gains the left made on the West Coast.

  • Not for me it isn’t. For the better part of ten frickin’ years I couldn’t get past the lobby of anything but those shitty ‘Urgent Care’ facilities. The ones where they make you pay cash or with a credit card on the spot.

    I finally have a personal family doctor again. Not. A. Step. Back.

    Just a step in a direction you don’t like. But we’re not going to get the socialized medicine you say we all need and I’m getting too frickin’ old to keep waiting for the glorious people’s revolution. I’ll take what I can get.

  • Bill_Perdue

    Socialized medicine is what working people need, Obama’s plan to enrich the owners and managers of insurance and pharmaceuticl compaines with Romneycare/Obamacare is a big step back.

  • No insurance before and a folder full of pre-existing condition rejections. Versus insurance now which is currently running me $291/mo (unsubsidized) for a Gold level plan.

    I am self-employed and about to turn 52 in less than a week. ‘Going naked’ was increasingly worrisome, especially since I’m now at that age where the health problems start coming up. Before ACA, I was faced with the decision as to whether to continue gambling with my life and everything my wife and I have saved and built for ourselves…or give up my business and try to find a salaried job somewhere as a cubicle drone because that was the only way I was ever going to get insurance again for the next 13 years.

    Sorry, but no. ACA is way less than perfect, but for millions of Americans it is in no way a step backward. I do not want to go back to where I can be rejected coverage just because I was so stupid as to see a doctor twenty years ago for some help with migraine headaches and hayfever allergies.

  • Don Chandler

    Obamacare sucks and it was a huge compromise in the wrong direction. Europe has much much better healthcare.

  • You continue to conflate socialized medicine with single payer. Socialized medicine would be the British system (or in the US the VA system) in which the one system employed the doctors and ran all the clinics and hospitals. Single payer would be something akin to medicare. I am in favor of single payer. I wish we could get something like that. I don’t know how that happens so long as the media is too lazy to talk intelligently about health care issues and the insurance companies can legally bribe elected officials. At least you agree that single payer couldn’t have passed. I get a lot of benefit from the ACA. I am truly sorry it wasn’t a better bill. We barely got that one passed. As it is there is a constant attempt by the right to repeal what little we have. I do not want to go back to filling out 20 pages of paperwork every time I visit a doctor so the insurance company can try to weasel out for paying anything at all. It’s not nothing. And it was the best we could get at the time. Feel free to live in your fantasy world in which socialists are electable anywhere but Vermont and can get a majority in both houses of Congress. I’ll continue to try to push forward to make changes to get something better in the real world.

  • mirth

    It’s called ObamaCare for a reason.
    He takes good care of those who bought him.

  • Bill_Perdue

    I am speaking for tens of millions of workers who need socialized medicine. And for
    more tens of millions on Medicare who are having their benefits cut. WASHINGTON — In his new budget, President Obama proposed on Monday to squeeze $399 billion over the next 10 years out of Medicare, Medicaid and other programs run by the Department of Health and Human Services.

    Under the proposals, many Medicare beneficiaries would have to pay more for their care and coverage. The president would, for example, introduce a co-payment for new Medicare beneficiaries who receive home health care services, and he would collect $4 billion over 10 years by imposing a surcharge on premiums for new beneficiaries who buy generous private insurance to supplement Medicare. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/03/us/politics/under-obama-budget-many-medicare-recipients-would-pay-more.html?emc=edit_th_20150203&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=25790019

    The Times also reports today that people are beginning to look into Cuba as a site for medical tourism.

    Single payer couldn’t have passed because of the political prostitutes who infest the WH and Congress, the ones that Democrats want us to vote for again in 2016 so we can continue to have crap health care.

  • nicho

    Wait until Medicare recipients figure out that Barry Obama wants to penalize them for having the audacity to purchase a private Medicare supplement plan. Buried deep in the fine print of his MIC-loving budget, it will force millions of Mediare recipients into HMO plans, where the insurance companies can make more money by denying care.

  • nicho

    And the last “step forward.” All fixed. All better. Nothing more we need to do. The blather we’re hearing today is the same blather we heard about Medicare Part D — another insurance giveaway — 10 years ago. “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” “Some people have benefitted.””it’s a first step, and we can improve it later.” But it wasn’t a first step. It was a last step. A few people did benefit. And the insurance companies have been laughing all the way to the bank ever since.

  • Bill_Perdue

    Why would anyone bother returning to the question. There’d just be another betrayal like Obama’s no matter which of the gangster parties runs the WH or the Congress.

  • Bill_Perdue

    They should be satisfied. Obama gave them the keys to the Mint. Some of the largest health insurers are hitting all-time highs. … Shares of UnitedHealth Group (UNH +0.74%), Humana (HUM +0.91%), Aetna (AET +0.94%) and WellPoint (WLP +1.73%) rallied Wednesday — with all four recording all-time highs in the wake of the Obama administration announcement
    that total enrollment in Affordable Care Act health exchange plans now tops 5 million.
    MSN Money March 20th, 2014

    http://money.msn.com/top-stocks/post–insurance-stocks-soar-on-obamacare-sign-ups
    and http://www.forbes.com/sites/brucejapsen/2013/10/26/despite-glitches-obamacare-profit-windfall-to-insurers-well-underway/

  • Bill_Perdue

    That’s true if you factor in data about the utter corruption of Obama and both parties in both Houses of Congress.

  • mirth

    If the Supremes rule against IRS subsidies and mandate, most legal experts believe Congress and the affected states will legally clarify and the licking of all the fingers stuck into the juicy ACA pie will continue.

    Here’s a good summary:

    http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/2014/11/12/Here-s-What-Might-Happen-if-SCOTUS-Rules-Against-Obamacare

  • We still don’t have everyone insured which was part of the issue with health care reform. On that count I’d say it wasn’t very successful. I wish they’d talk about the people who couldn’t get insurance or at least affordable insurance before, or change jobs, or leave their jobs to start their own businesses because of pre-existing conditions.

  • As opposed to the annual increases that were happening anyway?

  • Speak for yourself. ACA made my insurance a lot better. I’m a student and self employed so I have to get my insurance on my own (rather than through a job). I pay less, fill out less paperwork and don’t have to worry about my insurance refusing to pay. Yes, I’d rather have a system where I don’t have to worry about what I’m going to have to pay once I show up for an appointment with a new doctors. I really do never know and miscommunication between the idiots in the doctors’ office (doctor’s are notoriously cheap which is why their staff almost always sucks) and the insurance company. I’d love it if we could go to single payer but there is NO way that would have passed. ACA is an improvement and many of us couldn’t wait for the ideal before there was something. Especially people with pre-existing conditions.

  • Which is what is making the Supreme Court’s heads explode over the whole thing. They so much love the idea that it’s essentially a giant corporate welfare program, but they simply can’t stand that some Americans are actually getting access to health care.

  • I’ve maintained since the details of the plan first came out that it isn’t just a step backwards, it’s effectively made health care policy a toxic hot potato. Nobody is going to want to touch it, in a positive progressive way, for at least another generation.

  • mirth

    Out of a population of over 300 million, to-date numbers aren’t all that impressive, and the surety of government penalty likely means few signups are voluntary, again lowering the awe factor.

    Even so, thus far the private medical insurance industry is probably satisfied.

  • emjayay

    Or, as big a step forward as was possible.

  • Bill_Perdue

    We need socialized medicine. Obama’s crap medical plan just won’t cut it – it’s a step backward.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acc6Wn_BWlk

  • MoonDragon

    If the Rs win Burwell, it should be framed as a de facto tax increase on everyone who now must pay more for insurance under the system, since the mandate is still in effect. Let Grover eat that.

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