Gallup has released a teaser for its quarterly update of health-insurance coverage. Although the polling firm released only one datum (that the rate of uninsured fell to 12.3 percent in the first quarter from 12.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014) this was enough for President Obama to send forth a victory tweet.
Not so fast: As the press release itself notes, a large proportion of the newly “insured” are not actually insured, but on Medicaid. Medicaid is a welfare program. Consider the question: “Do you have health insurance coverage?” It is as if people receiving cash welfare payments answered the question, “Do you have a job?” in the affirmative.
I expect that when Gallup releases the full quarterly survey in April, my criticisms from January will remain substantially unchanged. Indeed, I expect that the 12.3 percent uninsured estimate might grow a little, because many of those who answered “yes, I am insured” in February had likely signed up for Obamacare coverage but not yet paid premiums. By April, those who signed up during open enrollment but not paid premiums will become uninsured again.