Survey: Most Obamacare Enrollees Already Had Insurance

Saturday, 18 Jan 2014 11:09 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Most of the people who have signed up for Obamacare coverage already had insurance,  raising questions about how the healthcare overhaul will reduce the number of uninsured Americans, a new survey reveals.

Just 11 percent of those buying through the healthcare exchanges were uninsured, a McKinsey & Co. study of 4,563 consumers discovered, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Meanwhile, nearly two thirds of the people jumping into Obamacare were switching from individual or employer-paid insurance plans.

Obamacare was aimed at providing insurance for 25 million of the 48 million Americans who were uninsured in 2012, partially by expanding state-run Medicaid programs.

It's difficult to tell exactly how many people have signed up for private insurance, reports The Washington Post's Ezra Klein, because of the variety of coverage programs. h

The McKinsey study said that many people, about 52 percent, did not buy insurance plans because they did not think they were affordable. About 30 percent said they faced technical problems on while trying to buy insurance through the exchanges.

Health Markets Inc., which has enrolled around 7,500 people through exchange plans, backed up the McKinsey numbers, saying that 65 percent of its enrollees had prior coverage.

About 10 percent of those said they dropped out of employer coverage because the employer stopped offering insurance or because they could qualify for subsidies through the marketplace and obtain less-expensive insurance.

This could cause problems for insurers who need to draw healthy uninsured people to offset their costs of covering less-healthy subscribers.

There is still time before the end of March for people to sign up, and Aaron Albright, a spokesman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said the government is ramping up its outreach activities so more Americans learn about the benefits of affordable health insurance.

Shopping around for insurance is nothing new. A Kaiser Family Foundation analysis shows that in 2011, about 66 people who bought new health insurance had been covered by employer-backed plans in late 2010.

"[There is] massive churn in the individual market, and always has been," said Larry Levitt, senior vice president at Kaiser. "It wouldn't surprise me if many [health-law enrollees] were insured in the last year," he said, but "that doesn't mean they wouldn't have ended up uninsured if not for the exchanges."

Meanwhile, the government could face financial issues and insurance companies could take huge financial hits if Accenture, which replaced CGI Federal to finish out the healthcare.gov website, doesn't finish the job by mid-March, The Hill reports.

If the website is not functional by mid-March, "the government could make erroneous payments to providers and insurers,” says a government procurement document, according to The Hill.

"Additionally, without a Financial Management platform that accounts for enrollments and associated program costs that integrates with the existing CMS Accounting platform, the entire healthcare reform program is jeopardized.”

Many of those who have signed up for Obamacare are eligible for federal subsidies, which the government pays directly to the insurers.

Medicare Center for Consumer Information Director Gary Cohen, told the House Energy and Commerce Oversight Subcommittee that the government would start paying insurers as soon as next week, based on the federal subsidies.

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