At last Tuesday's White House daily briefing, Press Secretary Jay Carney fought back narrative assaults on the Affordable Care Act's 7 million enrollment milestone by citing figures from a Gallup survey on the rate of uninsured Americans, figures which were, I pointed out, not inclusive of Obamacare's final enrollment surge, and which did not take into account the rate of uninsured people when the ACA was implemented on October 1. Today, Gallup released the full results for March, and the survey shows that the number of uninsured Americans has dropped by as many as 11 million since that October 1 rollout.
In early March, the mainstream press reported that the Gallup survey showed a 1.2 percent drop in the rate if uninsured Americans since the fourth quarter of 2013, for some reason ignoring the additional point that rate had dropped from October to December. When TheBlaze and ABC News' Jon Karl tried to blunt the impact of last week's announcement by asserting that the real measure of success ought to be how many of those 7 million enrollees were previously uninsured, Carney quoted that incomplete reporting, which, as the AP noted, would have translated "roughly to 3 million to 4 million people getting coverage," when in reality, the number was more like seven million if you included the fourth quarter drop.
Today's survey shows that the rate of uninsured Americans fell from 18 percent at the end of the third quarter of 2013 to 15.6 percent for the first quarter of 2014. That means about seven-and-a-half million people, slightly more than the number of enrollments reported by the Obama administration last week, but well short of what you might expect when you factor in the Medicaid expansion, which HHS says has increased Medicaid enrollment by more than 3 million.
However, Gallup's survey is reported in quarterly averages, so 15.6 percent is the average percentage of uninsured Americans for the entire first quarter. Here's what the report found for the month of March:
The uninsured rate has been falling since the fourth quarter of 2013, after hitting an all-time high of 18.0% in the third quarter -- a sign that the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as "Obamacare," appears to be accomplishing its goal of increasing the percentage of Americans with health insurance coverage. Even within this year's first quarter, the uninsured rate fell consistently, from 16.2% in January to 15.6% in February to 15.0% in March. And within March, the rate dropped more than a point, from 15.5% in the first half of the month to 14.5% in the second half -- indicating that enrollment through the healthcare exchanges increased as the March 31 deadline approached.
That means that, at the end of March, about 11 million fewer people were uninsured than at the beginning of October, a number that tracks almost exactly with the number of Obamacare and Medicaid enrollments. Let's see how this anti-Obamacare narrative-killer gets reported.