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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press One Million More People Are Eligible for the Exchanges Every Month

One Million More People Are Eligible for the Exchanges Every Month

Friday, 25 April 2014 04:58

The New York Times ran a piece reporting that more Democrats running for election this year are openly campaigning on the Affordable Care Act. The piece noted that eight million people had signed up for the exchanges by the end of the open enrollment period. While this is a large base of people who may perceive themselves as benefiting from the law, it is worth noting that this number is likely to increase substantially in the months leading up to the election.

Under the law, people who face a "life event" become eligible for insurance in the exchange. Life events include job loss, divorce, death in the family, and the birth of a new child. Every month roughly four million people leave their jobs. If just one in five of these people go from a job with insurance to either being unemployed or a job without insurance, it would mean another 800,000 people are becoming eligible for the exchanges every month for this reason alone.

This means that the number of people who will have had the opportunity to buy insurance through the exchanges by election will be far higher than the number currently enrolled. Since many of these people will have found themselves unexpectedly without insurance, they are likely to especially value the opportunity to buy insurance on the exchanges. 

Comments (6)Add Comment
Insurance After the Fact is Not Insurance
written by Last Mover, April 25, 2014 6:01

Someday either Obamacare will no longer be called "insurance" or insurance itself will no longer qualify as insurance.

If this was insurance then homeowners need not insure their houses from fire until a life-changing event burns them down.

Obamacare is a mangled high-cost version of single payer designed to preserve the market power of insurers and providers who wrote it. That it still makes many better off is a testament to the degree of extortion practiced by the medical industrial complex.
Not a life changing event.
written by jjmsan, April 25, 2014 10:02
Sudden illness is not one of the events that allows you to sign up out of the open enrollment period. They are usually: loss of job, death of a spouse, divorce or something else that would cause you to lose insurance you already had. While I prefer single payer the most that we probably could have gotten was Medicare as an option for everyone.
written by skeptonomist, April 25, 2014 10:03
If you lose your job you won't necessarily get a subsidy from the ACA. If you lose your job and your household income goes to zero you get nothing from the ACA according to the basic rules - it only kicks in at 100% of poverty-level income. Your health-care support would come from Medicaid. If your household income goes to say 80% of poverty level you may also get nothing from from Medicare in half the states. Kids can get CHIP support but that expires in 2015.

How is your subsidy level determined if you lose your job - do you get to specify your own income level, and then the whole thing is settled up at tax time? Hopefully it would not be determined by your last year's income as reported to the IRS, which could stick you with low- or no-subsidy premiums. People whose income is over 400% of poverty level - $63k/yr for a couple - get no subsidy.

One thing is predictable - people will still be trying to figure out the rules and possibilities years from now.
written by urban legend, April 25, 2014 5:16
One of these days Democrats will figure out how to promote how the law not only benefits those who have been able finally to get insurance, but provides an enormous PRESENT benefit for the tens of millions more voters who now, unlike before, have the assurance they will be able to get health insurance if they should lose their jobs; and how Republicans who want to repeal the law would take that assurance away from them; and how when those Republicans squeal that they are all for the pre-existing conditions thing had many years when they controlled the House, Senate, Presidency and the Supreme Court, yet did absolutely nothing to prevent insurance companies from denying coverage to people who lost their jobs or cutting off insurance when claims were made or went too high.

Have you heard a single Democrat makes this case to the overwhelming majority of voters, or have you only heard them crowing about how many of the relatively fewer millions who were unlucky before now have insurance? That, of course, is an important story, but it is also letting Republicans frame the agenda: Democrats care about poor people and take your tax dollars to do it; we cut your taxes because we don't use them to help people who should be taking care of themselves if they were as morally upright as you are. The Democrats should be framing the story about ACA for maximum political benefit -- at this stage politics is policy -- and you have to show the benefit to the tens of millions of Americans who have thought they are mostly unaffected by the positive parts of the law.
written by urban legend, April 25, 2014 6:11
Skeptonomist --

Where are you getting this stuff? If you are 80% of poverty level (and don't exceed wealth thresholds) you qualify for Medicaid regardless of ACA, don't you? If you are at that income level but don't qualify because you have too much wealth -- e.g., in a 401K in a state that does not exclude retirement accounts from wealth calculation -- then you would be able to go on the exchange but would not get any tax credits beyond what someone at 138% of the poverty level would get. Notwithstanding that, using a suburban county near Dallas, Texas, as an example, there are several plans available with the maximum (138%) credits for zero premium or under $20 per month, 9 under $50 (including two silvers with very low deductibles max out-of-pocket), and 17 plans, including some more with very low deductibles, for under $100.
written by urban legend, April 25, 2014 6:19
In theory in a stable labor market, the number losing insurance from losing a job should be balanced off approximately 1:1, so this factor should not net to a higher number of active accounts through the exchanges. With an improving job market and lowering unemployment rate -- albeit at a snail's pace -- the number leaving the exchanges for employer coverage should be somewhat higher than the gainers on the exchanges due to loss of job.

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.