Obamacare’s Effect on Uninsured is Trivial

At the end of 2014, Jason Furman and Matt Fiedler of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers published an analysis of the uninsured in the first half of 2014. The two economists boasted that “2014 has seen largest coverage gains in four decades, putting the uninsured rate at or near historic lows.”

Their own graph shows how exaggerated and misleading this claim is.


The drop in uninsured is only impressive when compared to 2011, when the uninsured rate was higher than it has been since Medicare and Medicaid were launched. Although Obamacare, which was signed in 2010, did not have much of an impact in 2011, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (the so-called “stimulus”) increased government dependency by adding over one hundred billion dollars to Medicaid spending and other subsidies to laid-off workers to pay health insurance premiums under COBRA.

As with other parts of the stimulus, this failed to stimulate the economy, resulting in a dragged out recovery from the Great Recession. So, 2011 had the largest proportion of uninsured since 1975. It should not be hard to improve dramatically from that.

Look, on the other hand, at what happened in the early 1960s: A dramatic increase in coverage ― to 80 percent of the population ― before the institution of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965. Indeed, it looks like Medicare and Medicaid just hitched a ride on the secular increase in health insurance during the post-war boom.

This graph comes from President Obama’s own economic advisers. How do they not see that government interference in health care is the cause, not the solution, of the crisis Obamacare purports to solve?

Comments (7)

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  1. Perry says:

    Obamacare’s had a trivial effect in general.

  2. Wes Baker says:

    Shouldn’t the individual mandate provision have significant effects on the uninsured?

  3. Joe Barnett says:

    Looks like the uninsured rate has dropped by almost one-third from its peak — so how is that trivial?

    • John R. Graham says:

      Because it just brings us back to where we were before the federal government entered the health-insurance business. Maybe “harmful” a better word than “trivial”.

  4. Wanda J. Jones says:

    John–This is a great example of how selective people can be in the data points they clasp to their chests. Your point is well taken. Thanks for the chart.

    Wanda J. Jones
    San Francisco

  5. Big Truck Joe says:

    The only real statistic that should be gleaned is how many people who were part of the 42 million uninsured are now insured specifically because of their enrollment in Obamacare. It seems to me that was the reason Obama strong armed his Democrat congressional party members to pass Obamacare. Can somebody tell me that number that raw number – not a percentage? and that number’s supposed sign of success is further assuaged if the amount of people who are newly insured are subsidized to the tune of 80-87% of all enrollees. By giving out free govt sponsored insurance, no wonder people have signed up. Try taking away tax payer funded subsidies and see how any sign up.

    • John R. Graham says:

      Thank you. I think we have a blog entry that will answer that, to be posted within the next couple of days!