The Spectacle Blog

SOTU and Obamacare

By on 1.24.12 | 12:28PM

If President Obama mentions Obamacare in the State of the Union address tonight he will probably repeat what the White House stated in advance of his speech:

We've worked diligently to implement the Affordable Care Act and we're making incredible progress. Thanks to the new law, 2.5 million more young adults have health insurance, millions of seniors have cheaper prescription drugs and we've ended the worst insurance company abuses….We always welcome good ideas from anyone about how to make health care better and more affordable.

Before looking at what the President will leave out, let's look at what he might claim.

There are not 2.5 more young adults (age 19-25) covered because of Obamacare. The administration gets this number by adding up everyone interviewed from January-June 2011 who said they did not have health insurance at the time of the interview, for part of the year and for over a year. But such numbers are a snapshot rather than the full picture of unemployment.

The Employee Benefits Research Institute has also analyzed the Obama claim:

Closer examination of the Census data shows that the percentage of persons ages 19‒25 with employment based coverage as a dependent increased from 24.7 percent in 2009 to 27.7 percent in 2010. The number of persons ages 19‒25 with employment-based coverage as a dependent increased from 7.3 million to 8.2 million. It should be noted, however, that the increase in employment-based coverage as a dependent could be the result of individuals losing coverage through work and thus moving from employment-based coverage in their own name to employment-based coverage as a dependent, which was observed for persons ages 19‒25.4

The percentage of individuals ages 19‒25 with coverage through their own job fell from 20 percent in 2009 to 17.5 percent in 2010. However, such a notable effect was not observed for adults ages 26‒64. The percentage of adults 26‒64 with employment-based health coverage in their own name fell from 46.6 percent in 2009 to 45.9 percent in 2010, while the percentage with coverage as a dependent slipped from 17.4 percent to 17.2 percent.

Which means that people were simply shifting how they get their coverage as opposed to new people getting new coverage. Indeed, the Census report also shows 393,000 more people ages 19-25 getting coverage. But part of that is growth in Medicaid coverage and military enlistment.

Are seniors getting cheaper drugs? Yes they are, courtesy of the taxpayers. More on that and other Obamacare victories soon.

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