Medicaid and Obamacare: The Data Donut Hole



Josh Marshall wants people to believe that approximately 10 million individuals have health coverage because of the Affordable Care Act. Writing for Talking Points Memo, Marshall says that this number is reached by the number of signups on for insurance: 2.1 million. To this, he adds an estimated 4.3 million people who enrolled in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Finally he includes the 3.1 million young people who have stayed on their parents’ insurance plans.

His totals get him to 9.5 million, which he then rounds up to account for incomplete and non-updated data. Ezra Klein of the Washington Post takes issue with some but not all of this data. He gives credit to the number of signups and to the young people who stayed on their parents’ insurance.

The data about young people retaining their parents’ insurance is reliable, but it is impossible to know how many would not have pursued health coverage had they not been able to stay on their parents’ plan. This figure would be nearly impossible to track — the program is incredibly popular and has grown since it was implemented in 2010.

What Klein does provide a discussion of is the difficulty in knowing how many people have enrolled for Medicaid. Klein cites a 4.4 million figure for Medicaid enrollees; Marshall uses 4.3 million — based on Charles Gaba’s ongoing tracking of enrollment data for Obamacare — as a starting point. Marshall points out that some people are using a 3.9 million figure but disposes of it, since it does not include December data.