May 18, 2016 by Tony Novak
Yesterday the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released a report that showed that about 9% of the population, around 29 million people, did not have health insurance in 2015. The report says that the number of uninsured were “7.4 million fewer persons than in 2014”. The Obama administration and the Clinton campaigns immediately grabbed that statistic to show that Obamacare is working. The shocking part was that media did not report the contradiction that earlier reports by the Census Bureau and Gallop polls actually indicated an increase in the number of uninsured from 2014 to 2015.
We should also recognize that CDC and the Census Bureau do not count the number of uninsured in the same way as they did years ago. It was smart to update the methodology to eliminate the portion of people that were without coverage for a short period of time due to some life change event. There is nothing wrong with changing statistical methodology but it makes before and after comparative statistics meaningless. Yet we used the bloated figure to argue that there was a need for Obamacare and the trimmed number to argue that the program works. That’s simple misleading.
Let’s be clear on this. Saying that the percentage of uninsured Americans went from 16% before Obamacare to 9% now is simply wrong. To say that the number of uninsured dropped from 50 million to 30 million is simply lying with statistics.
We should also recognize that the single issue of counting the number of insured vs uninsured people does not have the meaning that it once did. The number of insured people going without medical care because they can’t afford the uncovered expenses is reported to be shockingly high even if hard data is not available yet. The studies call these people ‘underinsured’ and there seems to be more than 20 million Americans in this category.
Nobody doubts that the number of uninsured has dropped due to expansion of subsidized coverage, aka ‘Obamacare’, but the numbers are not likely as dramatic as advertised and the meaning of this statistic in not as meaningful as it was years ago.