Obamacare’s Persistent Shoppers

by Jonah Goldberg

Vox’s Sarah Kliff (formerly of the Washington Posttweeted out:

Lot of my thinking on why Obamacare hit 7M comes from reporting this piece. Uninsured are *very* persistent shoppers.  

So I read the piece – which is from last December. It’s interesting. It’s all about the persistence and determination of the uninsured to get insurance. The headline reads, “It’s hard to sign up for Obamacare. It’s much worse to be uninsured.” She goes on:

As a reporter who has covered the Affordable Care Act, I’ve spent a lot of time talking to uninsured Americans. Aside from the daily federal updates and traffic statistics, it’s been one of the more helpful ways to understand how the health-care law is working — and what its rocky rollout will mean.

And what I’ve learned from all those discussions is this: The people shopping on HealthCare.gov are incredibly, unwaveringly persistent in their attempts to purchase coverage.

This is something that has become clear to me in my most recent interviews, talking to people who have now spent two months trying to buy insurance coverage. These are the people who have made upwards of 100 attempts at buying insurance coverage.

So here’s the thing I don’t quite understand. Most of the reporting I’ve seen about the sign-ups suggests that the majority or even the vast majority of those enrolling in Obamacare are people who were previously insured. RAND says that only a third of enrollees (or presumed enrollees since we don’t know how many are paying) were previously uninsured. McKinsey puts the number at closer to a quarter.  In fairness, if you include the expansion of Medicaid, even more people now have coverage. But that’s not what Kliff is talking about in that post. She’s talking about people who came in through the Obamacare exchanges. And of those allegedly 7 million people at least 4 or 5 million had insurance that they then lost because of Obamacare. In short, I’m at a loss as to how the diligence and perseverance of the uninsured fueled the “success” of the exchanges when 1) they constitute a minority of sign-ups 2) there are, by the Democrats’ own numbers, still tens of millions of uninsured people who haven’t rushed to sign up and 3) the majority of people who have signed up did so because Obamacare first destroyed the insurance they already had. 

Maybe the piece should have been about how people who’ve had their insurance revoked by Obamacare are really persistent shoppers?