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Heritage study implies only 2.5 million uninsured people, at most, signed up for Obamacare

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A study released by the Heritage Foundation indicates that as few as 2.5 million previously uninsured people signed up for Obamacare in 2014, far less than the 8 million enrollments the Obama administration has touted this year.

The study noted that through the first half of 2014, insurance companies reported an increase of 6.25 million new individual health plans, a total that includes people who bought plans on an Obamacare exchange, and those who bought outside the exchanges.

The study also found that about 3.8 million people left the employer-sponsored insurance market in the first half of 2014. Many of these people are likely to have been some of the 6.25 million new individual enrollees in a health plan.

That means on a net basis, about 2.5 million new people became insured over the last six months. The Heritage study therefore indicates that in a best-case situation, a maximum of 2.5 million previously uninsured people may have signed up for Obamacare, while the rest are likely to be people who had insurance through a company and lost it, possibly because those plans had to be canceled because of new standards under Obamacare.

"While most of the attention has focus on the new health insurance exchanges, the data indicate that a significant share of exchange enrollments were likely the result of a substitution effect — meaning that most of those who enrolled in new coverage through the exchanges… already had coverage through an individual-market or employer-group plan," the study concluded.

The number of new enrollees is also likely to be less than 2.5 million, since some of those people probably bought insurance plans outside an Obamacare exchange. Ed Haislmaier, one of the authors of the study at Heritage, told TheBlaze that data was not available to break down how many of the 2.5 million new individual insurance plans were bought inside Obamacare, and how many were bought outside Obamacare.

Separately, the study indicated that expanded eligibility rules for Medicaid appears to have resulted in a 6.1 million increase in people signed up for that program.

The study used data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which said nearly 6.1 million new people were added to Medicaid. Heritage determined that about 94 percent of that increase occurred in the states that agreed to expand Medicaid eligibility.

"The inescapable conclusion is that, when it comes to covering the uninsured, Obamacare so far is mainly an expansion of Medicaid," the study said.

A Supreme Court decision said states are not required to expand eligibility. In the end, 27 states plus the District of Columbia decided to expand eligibility.

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