Determined to undermine positive news about successful enrollment in health coverage through the Affordable Care Act, Fox News drastically downplayed the number of previously uninsured Americans who have gained coverage through the ACA.
Fox Claims Only 1.5 Million Previously Uninsured Are Now Insured Under ACA
Fox Contributor Charles Krauthammer: “The Estimate Is 1 Million To 1.5 Million Of These Were Uninsured Before” Obamacare. Fox contributor Charles Krauthammer discussed enrollment estimates during the March 31 edition of Special Report, and he claimed that the net impact of the Affordable Care Act was to insure between 1 million and 1.5 million previously uninsured Americans:
KRAUTHAMMER: But on these exchanges, you have got to ask yourself, the price we have paid -- the estimate is one to one-and-a-half million of these people were uninsured before. The whole idea was insuring the uninsured. So that's going to leave about 40 million uninsured. And for that, we have to cancel 6 million policies? [Fox News, Special Report, 3/31/14]
Fox's Steve Doocy: “Less Than 2 Percent Of Those Who Are Uninsured” Now Insured. Fox News co-host Steve Doocy argued on April 1 that the 7 million enrollment figure was misleading because “only two percent of those who are uninsured” are “insured today”:
DOOCY: So, open enrollment has ended. But keep in mind what this whole program was all about, because there are 40 or 50 million Americans without health care. We blew up everything to take care of them. And yet, by Elisabeth's count, looking at the number of people who signed up -- and the White House says it's 7 million -- but you deduct the people who probably double enrolled because they had the false start where they tried once, where the people who haven't paid. You got less than 2 percent of those who are uninsured insured today. Was it really worth blowing everything up for them? It's great that they got it. But still, to impact so many people across the country for that small a margin, it does seem like a long way to go. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/1/14]
Fox's Stuart Varney: “Maybe One Million” Previously Uninsured Americans Now Have Coverage. Fox Business host Stuart Varney told America's Newsroom's Martha MacCallum that “we've not insured very many” of the previously uninsured, “maybe one million”:
VARNEY: We still have tens of millions of people who are uninsured. We went into this in the first place to insure them. We've not insured very many of them.
So this morning, a lot of people are saying, what did we do this for? We've upended 1/6 of the United States economy, we've really changed our health care system dramatically, and what have we got? Maybe one million people who used to be uninsured who are now insured. We've done all of that for one million to be insured.
MACCALLUM: That's the number, Stuart, that we really need to get a handle on. And I've heard estimates as low as 400,000 in terms of those people who never had - didn't have insurance, couldn't afford insurance, and now have a policy in their hand. [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 4/1/14]
Reality: An Estimated 9.5 Million Previously Uninsured Are Now Insured Under ACA
9.5 Million Previously Uninsured Have Gained Coverage Under Obamacare. The LA Times reported on March 30 that based on “enrollment reports, surveys, and interviews,” the ACA had already provided health care coverage to 9.5 million previously uninsured individuals as the initial enrollment deadline drew to a close. The report accounted for individuals who had signed up through the exchanges, people who will now receive insurance through Medicaid expansion, people who bought plans directly through insurers, as well as young adults who choose to remain on their parent's health plans:
President Obama's healthcare law, despite a rocky rollout and determined opposition from critics, already has spurred the largest expansion in health coverage in America in half a century, national surveys and enrollment data show.
As the law's initial enrollment period closes, at least 9.5 million previously uninsured people have gained coverage. Some have done so through marketplaces created by the law, some through other private insurance and others through Medicaid, which has expanded under the law in about half the states.
The tally draws from a review of state and federal enrollment reports, surveys and interviews with insurance executives and government officials nationwide. [Los Angeles Times, 3/30/14]
Estimates Show At Least 27 Percent Of New Enrollees Were Previously Uninsured. Data shows that about one-third of the new enrollees in health coverage on the ACA's marketplaces were previously uninsured, as the Los Angeles Times detailed (emphasis added):
Precise figures on national health coverage will not be available for months. But available data indicate:
• At least 6 million people have signed up for health coverage on the new marketplaces, about one-third of whom were previously uninsured.
• A February survey by consulting firm McKinsey & Co. found 27% of new enrollees were previously uninsured, but newer survey data from the nonprofit Rand Corp. and reports from marketplace officials in several states suggest that share increased in March.
• At least 4.5 million previously uninsured adults have signed up for state Medicaid programs, according to Rand's unpublished survey data, which were shared with The Times. That tracks with estimates from Avalere Health, a consulting firm that is closely following the law's implementation.
• An additional 3 million young adults have gained coverage in recent years through a provision of the law that enables dependent children to remain on their parents' health plans until they turn 26, according to national health insurance surveys from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
• About 9 million people have bought health plans directly from insurers, instead of using the marketplaces, Rand found. The vast majority of these people were previously insured.
• Fewer than a million people who had health plans in 2013 are now uninsured because their plans were canceled for not meeting new standards set by the law, the Rand survey indicates. [Los Angeles Times, 3/30/14]
Congressional Budget Office Predicts Obamacare Will “Reduce The Number Of Americans Without Insurance By Nearly Half” By 2017. Last month, The New Republic explained a Congressional Budget Office report which found that the ACA will significantly reduce the number of previously uninsured individuals by 2017:
[C]onservatives would have you believe CBO thinks the new health law won't put a real dent in the number of uninsured. That's not at all what CBO said.
CBO actually starts with a much higher baseline for the number of uninsured -- 57 million non-elderly Americans -- because of the data it uses. (Estimates of the uninsured vary a lot depending on which survey you choose and how you define the term.) And the Affordable Care Act, according to CBO, will reduce that number significantly. Without the law, CBO says, the number of uninsured Americans would stay at roughly 57 million. But thanks to the various coverage expansions -- not just the creation of new private insurance marketplaces, but also the expansion of Medicaid and ability of young adults to stay on their parents' plans--the number of uninsured will decline markedly. By 2017, according to CBO, Obamacare will have reduced the number of Americans without insurance by nearly half -- or more, if you don't count undocumented workers.
[The New Republic, 2/10/14]