Estimates Grow for Uninsured Covered by Obamacare

Based on a USA Today survey summarizing the results of 19 reporting states, the number of uninsured individuals expected to purchase a health insurance plan through the exchanges established under Obamacare is estimated to top 8.5 million. That number exceeds the government’s original 50-state estimate of 7 million.

In 2011, there were 48 million people in the U.S. who were uninsured, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

USA Today contacted all 50 states to gather current estimates for the number of uninsured expected to purchase through exchanges, but 31 either didn’t respond or didn’t have estimates. Data from states that did respond proved surprising. California alone is expecting to enroll 5.3 million uninsured people. Half of all uninsured people live in three states: Texas, California, and Florida.

The higher-than-expected numbers are “a very good thing,” according to Paul Ginsburg, president of the Center for Studying Health System Change. “First, these are people who need health insurance. And second, the scenario that only sick people will enroll is less likely.”

Opponents of the law says the higher estimate isn’t necessarily good. “They could sign up 7 million sick people,” said Michael Cannon, director of health policy studies for the Cato Institute, a libertarian think-tank opposed to the law. “It will be hard to sign 7 million that are healthy.”

Open enrollment in the exchanges opens October 1, 2013, and ends March 31, 2014. The federal government will be advertising the exchanges to build awareness and has funded not-for-profit “navigators” to help people understand and sign up for insurance in the exchanges.

Click here to read the USA Today article.

Health Insurance, photograph © Thomas Hawk / flickr

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