New Report: Debunking Republican Claims about Coverage Losses under the Affordable Care Act

Dec 31, 2013

Today Ranking Member Henry A. Waxman released a new report on the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  The new report finds that contrary to claims by Republican critics, five million Americans will not lose coverage in 2014 due to the ACA.  Even if one assumes the reported number of initial cancellations is accurate, the number of individuals who are unable to renew pre-ACA coverage, enroll in subsidized coverage, or access a catastrophic plan is likely under 10,000 people, which is just 0.2% of the estimate made by opponents of the Affordable Care Act.

“This new report shows that people will get the health insurance coverage they need, contrary to the dire predictions of Republicans,” said Rep. Waxman.  “Millions of American families are already benefitting from the law.”

There has been a surge in enrollment in the Affordable Care Act’s new health insurance marketplaces as individuals signed up for coverage effective January 1.  Approximately two million Americans have enrolled in private coverage through the federal and state based marketplaces.  Medicaid has enrolled over four million individuals under new eligibility rules established by the Affordable Care Act.  And over three million young adults have gained coverage through their parents’ plans.

Despite this progress, critics of the law have recently been advancing a particularly specious and disingenuous argument:  that more people will lose health insurance coverage as a result of the Affordable Care Act than will gain coverage.  The new report examines the faulty assumptions and misleading analysis behind this claim.

The claim that millions will not have coverage in 2014 due to the Affordable Care Act rests on multiple erroneous assumptions.  It ignores the efforts of insurance companies to re-sign individuals who received cancellation notices.  It assumes that no individuals who had private insurance will sign up for insurance through the new health insurance exchanges or Medicaid.  And it overlooks the availability of low-cost catastrophic coverage for this population.   When these factors are taken into account, a much different picture emerges:  there are likely fewer than 10,000 individuals who previously had insurance in the individual market who are not able to re-enroll in their prior plans, benefit from subsidized health insurance, or obtain low-cost catastrophic coverage - and many of these individuals will enroll in unsubsidized coverage through the exchanges.

The full report is available online here.