December 8, 2021

THE REAL GALLUP POLL NUMBERS

After reading the headlines in the mainstream media “Gallup confirms gains in health insurance sign ups” most people that do not read the content of the article, or go to the source, will believe that this ongoing and trustworthy poll validates the 7.1 million of enrollees declared by our government.    First the survey is not of “sign ups”, like the official numbers, but of actual uninsured adults.    Also it includes persons eligible for Medicaid in their figure, when the one given by the authorities separated the amount.    I have previously disputed the official totals using insurance industry prior experiences, and some limited polling evidence, arriving at a real number of 2 to 3 million paid insured thanks to the Obamacare law.   

Nobody denies the need for health reform and the necessity of insuring the uninsured.   According to Gallup 14.6% of the population was uninsured in 2008, a reason given for the urgency of a legislation.    After 4 years of a complete overhaul of our health care delivery system, the amount of uninsured, the only needy, has increased to 15.6% of the population.    The calculations made by the pollsters conclude that approximately 3.5 million more persons are now insured since the beginning of the year.    In this amount Medicaid recipients are included.    My estimate of up to 3 million, excluding Medicaid, looks better than Gallup’s, even if it was highly criticized as a partisan conclusion.    When you study this recent poll figures, some other disturbing evidence comes to light.   

Gallup compares December 31st to April 1st percentages.    They accurately explain that the increase of uninsured in the third quarter of 2013 was due to the population that had their insurances cancelled because of not complying with the new law’s requirements.    They believe, and I agree, that most of these persons have already bought coverage.    I could dispute that the insurance cancellations started a year ago, so a one year comparison might be more accurate.   This method would make the decrease of uninsured 1.2%, 16.8% in March 2013 to 15.6% this year translating to approximately 2.8 million persons.    On the other hand the survey is a “rolling” 3 month poll, and the spurt of interest in the last weeks of March is not properly accounted for, so I feel comfortable with the 3.5 million total of newly insured.    According to Gallup, most of the gains are in the minorities and the poorest of the surveyed, so it is probable that more than 1 million of enrollees were in Medicaid or received subsidies, while only around 25% of the needed “low risk” were present.  

In conclusion, after the first evidence of the effect of Obamacare is studied, the number of persons helped, as compared to the unintended consequences of the law, and the inevitable future increase of premiums to policyholders and taxes to all, the liabilities are vastly superior to the benefits.

Fernando J Milanes MD

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