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Survey: 9.3 million gained coverage during Obamacare enrollment

RAND's survey has mixed results for the health-care law.
RAND's survey has mixed results for the health-care law.
Alex Wong / Getty Images News

Another day, another set of Obamacare enrollment numbers.

A new RAND Corporation survey estimates 9.3 million Americans gained insurance between September, the month before Obamacare's marketplaces kicked off, and mid-March. That represents a drop in the uninsured rate from 20.5 percent to 15.8 percent, according to RAND.

The report doesn't necessarily translate to a huge victory for Obamacare's marketplaces: among the newly insured, the biggest gains were in employer-sponsored coverage.

In total, RAND estimates 14.5 million Americans gained coverage during the six-month study period and 5.2 million lost coverage.

Among the previously uninsured, 7.2 million gained coverage through an employer, 3.6 million through Medicaid, and 1.4 million through Obamacare's marketplaces. The rest gained insurance through unspecified sources.

Researchers suggest more than 2 million of the 5.2 million newly uninsured might have lost their coverage after leaving or losing a job. Less than 1 million of the newly uninsured previously held coverage on the individual market.

RAND also found that only one-third of people signing up for Obamacare's marketplaces were previously uninsured. That may help explain why the 9.3 million estimate falls far below the 13 million budget forecasters predicted would gain health insurance under Obamacare.

The estimate, however, comes with a substantial margin of error: it could be off by plus or minus 3.5 million, according to RAND.

The report also does not capture the health law's full open enrollment period — particularly the last couple weeks. That's important because the White House reported a surge in signups on the exchanges as the March 31 enrollment deadline approached. In other words, the RAND survey could have missed a substantial amount of the newly insured.

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