Now that we've passed the March 31 deadline for people to sign up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act, the question needs to be asked: Is Obamacare failing?
While the new healthcare law was passed in 2010, most of it went into effect Jan. 1, with the first Obamacare enrollment period running from Oct. 1 through yesterday (Monday).
As Obamacare passes this major milestone, we decided to measure the law's success by the goals that the Obama administration set and the promises it made.
Let's dig right in to Money Morning's Obamacare report card…
Is Obamacare Failing? Time to Grade
Covering the Uninsured
The primary goal of the ACA was to make sure that the 45 million Americans without health insurance could get it. While a last-minute push appears to have gotten the number of people signing up close to the 7 million Obama administration officials said they wanted, it's hard to say exactly how many of these folks lacked insurance before. Certainly, some of the people signing up through the Obamacare exchanges were among the 5 million who lost their coverage when their plans got canceled last year for not being compliant with the law.
And a survey by the McKinsey consulting firm earlier this month found that just 27% of the enrollees were previously uninsured. Goldman Sachs estimates that just 1 million of the enrollees will have been previously uninsured; their number is so low because they believe as many as a third of the people who selected a plan at an exchange have not paid the premium – and thus are not yet covered.
One bright spot has been a spurt in the number of people signing up for Medicaid; Obamacare greatly expanded eligibility for Medicaid in an effort to get coverage for those who could not afford insurance before. These numbers could be better, but many Republican-governed states have refused to participate in the expanded program.
The final overall count won't be in for a while – and even then, it will be disputed – but so far Obamacare has done a so-so job of getting the uninsured covered. The Congressional Budget Office says that by 2017 the number of uninsured will be 30 million and inch back up to 31 million by 2024. That's much better than 47 million, but it still leaves more than half of the law's target population without coverage.
That's not a grade to be especially proud of, but it gets worse…