Enrollment Numbers Get an Unexpected Boost

April 15, 2014

The Affordable Care Act’s Exchanges were deemed a success with the enrollment of 7.5 million individuals, a figure that surpassed initial projections. However, these numbers only include individuals that purchased insurance through federal and state health exchanges, and it does not distinguish between the already insured and the newly insured. Today on NPR, America’s overall new enrollment numbers were reported. With all eyes on the number of enrollees in the new health insurance marketplace (Exchanges), employer sponsored insurance (ESI), Medicaid expansions and insurance purchased directly from private health plans on the individual market have been largely overlooked.

So how many people are actually enrolled in health insurance nationwide? According to a recent survey from RAND Corporation, the net gain in insurance is 9.3 million, this includes increases in Exchange coverage, employment based coverage, individual coverage and Medicaid coverage.

Enrollment in ESI increased by 8.2 million (from 108.7 million to 116.9 million individuals), likely because of newly employed individuals and the individual mandate. An estimated 7.8 million individuals, from September 2013 to March 2014, purchased individual health insurance outside of the marketplaces; more than 90 percent were previously insured. Also, from September to March, Medicaid enrollment increased by 5.9 million (from 12.3 million to 18.2 million individuals).

This brings enrollment numbers nationwide to a little more than 167 million. This figure includes previously uninsured individuals. Nearly 80 percent of adults retained the same form of coverage. The uninsured rate dropped from 20.5 percent to 15.8 percent, a decrease of 22.5 percent (9.3 million individuals) in less than 6 months.

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Overall it appears that the Affordable Care Act is meeting its goal to provide health coverage to more people despite the early technological hiccups experienced.