No one has tracked Obamacare enrollment as closely and comprehensively as blogger Charles Gaba. His spreadsheets have become gospel to reporters trying to follow the law's progress. His projections have been eerily accurate. And he's been utterly tireless in his efforts to collect, interpret, and understand the dozens of messy data sources that combine to offer a full picture of coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
Obamacare's 2015 open enrollment period ended on February 15. Since then, Gaba has been pulling the numbers, and on Monday, he released his results. "Now that every state (except for Idaho) has been updated through at least February 15th," he wrote, "here, once again, is the complete 2015 ACA enrollment graph, showing the rough breakout of all 32.3 million people whose current healthcare coverage is either wholly or partly due specifically to the Affordable Care Act."
A few definitions will be helpful: a QHP is a qualified health plan — a health insurance plan that meets Obamacare's standards. They can be sold on or off the exchanges. Medicaid "woodworkers" are people who were eligible for Medicaid even without Obamacare but are thought to have signed up because of the law's push for coverage. The SHOP exchanges are where participating small businesses purchase insurance.
As the inclusion of Medicaid woodworkers suggests, Gaba's definition of insurance relying on Obamacare is broad — but that's why his chart is so helpful. By including, but clearly delineating, every possible source of coverage, Gaba offers an unusually clear picture of both of the disparate mechanisms of coverage under the law and of their relative impact.
All in all, Gaba estimates that in 2015 32.3 million people will have health insurance that relies wholly or in part on Obamacare.
But it's important to be clear about what this doesn't mean: that Obamacare has insured 32 million previously uninsured people. Gaba estimates that "around 19 million already had some form of insurance coverage. Around 11 million were uninsured prior to January 2014, and around another 2 million were uninsured prior to January 2015."
One interesting wildcard for Gaba's projections: the White House is going to reopen enrollment for people who slam into the individual mandate while filing their taxes this year. It's unlikely that will make a huge difference in sign-ups, but with the penalty rising to up to two percent of income, it might.