Currently there are about 45 million uninsured individuals in the United States. The Urban Institute predicts would happen to the number of individuals uninsured under the following of reforms.
- Expand Medicaid to individuals with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty line (FPL): 17 million uninsured would receive insurance
- Provide subsidies to individuals with incomes between 133% and 400% FPL to purchase health insurance: 16.3 million uninsured would receive insurance.
- Enact an insurance mandate: 4.3 million uninsured persons would not be eligible for Medicaid or subsidies because they have incomes of at least 400 percent of the FPL, but would be required to purchase coverage due to the individual mandate.
- Number left uninsured: 6.3 million, these are the unauthorized or recently authorized immigrants.
Under these proposals, only immigrants would not have insurance. However, these reforms do not solve to problem of expensive health care or low quality health care. One can make everyone insured by enacting an individual mandate, but if health insurance costs $12,000 for a family, there is little hope that family earning $20,000 will be able to afford the premiums–regardless of whether there is a mandate or not.
Expanding insurance is a laudable goal, but it should not be the only one. Making health insurance more affordable would allow more people the option of purchasing health insurance. Further, spreading best practices across physicians would improve health care quality and may even reduce costs.
Source: Dubay, Cook, Urban Institute “How Will the Uninsured Be Affected by Health Reform?“