Of all the goals of President Obama's health care law, none was more central than the aim to boost coverage of uninsured Americans. But a series of new surveys suggest that this key group of Americans is not embracing Obamacare.
On Thursday, the Washington Post reported: "Only one in 10 uninsured people who qualify for private plans through the new marketplaces enrolled as of last month, one of the surveys shows. The other found that about half of uninsured adults have looked for information on the online exchanges or planned to look."
This news comes in the wake of a Kaiser Family Foundation survey that found that a record 56 percent of uninsured now have an unfavorable view of the law, compared with just 22 percent who have a favorable view.
The low adoption rate of Obamacare among the uninsured presents a number of problems, on both the political and policy fronts.
The adoption of Obamacare represented a major disruption across the health care industry and the broader economy, with implications for doctors, hospitals, insurers, drug companies, medical device manufactures, patients and businesses. It imposed $1 trillion of new taxes and $741 billion in Medicare cuts. If, for all of that, the law cannot even significantly expand insurance to the previously uninsured, it will prove catastrophic for Democrats.
But there’s also the issue of its sustainability. If only a small percentage of the uninsured are gaining coverage through the law, it’s more likely that those who are gaining coverage are skewing toward sicker uninsured Americans with higher medical costs. If that’s the case, and healthier uninsured Americans aren’t signing up – such as those who were uninsured by choice because they had low-medical costs – that could pose an existential threat to Obamacare.