Opponents of the Affordable Care Act claim that four to five million people will lose their health insurance coverage next year because of the law. They cite as evidence a report by the Associated Press that estimated that 4.7 million Americans have received or will receive notices cancelling their 2013 health insurance plans.
The extrapolation from that report to the claim that millions will lack coverage next year rests on multiple erroneous premises:
1) It ignores the efforts of insurance companies to re-sign individuals who received cancellation notices. Major insurance companies have indicated that they expect that the vast majority of the individuals to whom they sent notices will renew their 2013 coverage, be automatically enrolled in new coverage, or sign up for plans through the exchanges. As a result of Administration actions to allow additional 2013 policy renewals, half of the reported 4.7 million individuals who received cancellation notices have the option to renew their prior coverage.
[RSTYBEACH11: But will the insurance companies allow them to revert back?]
2) It assumes that no individuals who had private insurance will sign up for insurance through the new health exchanges or Medicaid. The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that half of individuals with current individual market coverage are eligible for tax credits through the new marketplaces and that an additional one million are eligible for Medicaid. These individuals will receive better coverage at lower cost by enrolling through the exchanges or signing up for Medicaid, and many have done so.
[RSTYBEACH11: Isn't that for the consumer to decide?]
3) It overlooks the availability of low-cost catastrophic coverage. Individuals who received cancellation notices are eligible to apply for a hardship exemption and purchase catastrophic health plans typically offered only to individuals under thirty. These plans are widely available throughout the United States.
[RSTYBEACH11: Good to know.]
Of the remaining 2.35 million individuals, approximately 1.4 million should be eligible for tax credits through the marketplaces or Medicaid. Of the remaining 950,000 individuals, fewer than 10,000 people in 18 counties in a single state would lack access to an affordable catastrophic plan. This is less than 0.2% of the estimate made by opponents of the Affordable Care Act.