Politics
U.S. President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks about the Affordable Care Act at Prince George U.S. President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks about the Affordable Care Act at Prince George's Community College in Largo, Maryland September 26, 2013. Obama on Tuesday highlighted the benefits of U.S. healthcare reform, a week before one of the controversial law's key elements, new insurance exchanges, go live. Millions of uninsured Americans will be able to sign up for coverage under President Barack Obama's healthcare reform beginning on Oct. 1, kicking off the most sweeping social program since the launch of Medicare for the elderly in the 1960s. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque   

Fewer people have health insurance now than in 2009

Photo of Neil Munro
Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

The percentage of Americans with health insurance has dropped from 84 percent in 2009 to 83.8 percent in 2014, according to a report by Gallup issued the day before President Obama’s State of the Union speech.

The 0.2 point drop means that roughly 600,000 people have lost insurance amid the lousy economy that has prevailed during  Obama’s tenure.

The number means that four years after the Democrats birthed the Obamacare network, the percentage of people without insurance is still below the level seen during President George. W. Bush’s second term.

GOP leaders and free-market advocates argue that GOP-backed free-market health laws would have provided more coverage to more people than was allowed by Obamacare’s mix of new taxes, myriad regulations and government-designed insurance packages.

The percentage drop shown by Gallup helps explain why public support for Obamacare remains low.

For example, a December survey by Gallup showed that only 22 percent of Americans say Obamacare will improve their families’ health care, while 37 percent believe it will worsen their families’ healthcare.

Obamacare’s unpopularity has hammed Obama’s poll ratings to near 40 percent, and could help the GOP gain a narrow majority in the Senate if the party doesn’t split over budget and immigration issues during the Spring.

Obama’s deputies say they have helped 3 million people get commercial health benefits since October, and they have notified 4 million low-skill people that they can enroll in Medicaid.

However, Obamacare’s roll out led to insurance cancellation notices for roughly 5 million people, and many of the 3 million had insurance prior to October, when Obamacare formally began.

Also, the Medicaid system routinely gains and loses millions of people, so it is not clear if the four million post-October sign-ups is an increase compared to the routine sign-ups prior to Obamacare.

There’s churn in the Medicare numbers because older people leave Medicaid for Medicare, some younger people earn enough money to graduate to the commercial insurance, and many new people sign up because of declining income.

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