March 7th, 2010
06:15 PM ET
4 years ago

CNN Fact Check: Are 15K people a day losing health insurance?

(CNN) - In the Obama administration's push to finally get its health care proposals through Congress, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius hit the Sunday talk shows to hammer home the costs of failure.

"I think we know what doing nothing looks like, and it looks pretty scary. Fifteen thousand people a day lose their insurance, and some of those folks are being actually priced out of the marketplace," Sebelius told NBC's "Meet the Press."

Fact Check: Are 15,000 people a day losing health insurance?

(Get the facts and the bottom line after the jump)


- Similar figures have been cited before by administration officials, including President Barack Obama himself. They appear to have been drawn from a February 2009 report by the liberal Center for American Progress, a supporter of Obama's drive to overhaul the U.S. health-care system.

– At that time, the unemployment rate had grown from 7.4 percent in December 2008 to 8.2 percent in February 2009. That meant more than 1.1 million workers joined the jobless rolls. Using a model developed by another liberal-leaning think-tank, the Urban Institute, the center calculated that about 900,000 of those people lost their health coverage. Put another way, that's about 14,000 per day.

– But since then, the U.S. unemployment rate climbed as high as 10.1 percent before falling to the current figure of 9.7 percent. The federal jobs report that came out Friday found that the economy shed 36,000 jobs in February. That's still a loss, but a far cry from the hundreds of thousands a month reported during the worst of the recession.

– In addition, the administration's economic stimulus bill tried to keep laid-off workers covered by subsidizing insurance payments under the COBRA program, which allows the unemployed to stay on their company's health plan by paying the company's full share. A December report by the nonprofit Commonwealth Fund found that roughly twice as many laid-off workers were enrolling in COBRA than before the subsidies were passed.

Bottom line: The figure Sebelius cited was based on the rapid growth of unemployment at the depths of the recent recession and is most likely out of date. In addition, the administration's own efforts may have helped cut into the numbers of newly uninsured.

soundoff (70 Responses)
  1. John in WV

    It does not matter whether it's 15 or 15 thousand. It's there. People are loosing their health care. Insurance companies are raising premiums and the repubs are saying let's start over so we give our insurance buddies enough time to raise us some more money at the expense of working class America.

    March 7, 2010 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  2. zhoayang liu

    Fact Check? In CNN, if it is Republican then it will be false. If were the Dems or Administration, then blah blah blah not really true but it is not false!

    March 7, 2010 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  3. Monster Zero

    Not to worry, Obamacare will save the day... Just consider what is transpiring in our country right now, because I'm sure Barry and his gang aren't. We have massive unemployment, we have a large segment of society that has burned through their savings, lost their employer provided healthcare and have been on the government subsidized COBRA and unemployment benefits for a while now. If this healthcare Bill passes, do you think that these rocket scientists in DC have thought about that huge slug of people that will now be added to that estimated 35 million that will now qualify below the poverty level for their Federally "subsidized plan healthcare plan"? Kind of like all those jobs they have created with that trillion dollar Stimu-LESS.

    March 7, 2010 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  4. RJS3

    Whenever you want to convince people that things are better or worse than they really are, find the best or worst number to toss out there, even if it is no longer viable.
    It is ironic that the Democrats accuse the Republicans of fearmongering, yet they do the same thing in their pitch to try to pass this healthcare reform.

    March 7, 2010 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  5. Fact or Fiction

    Fact is if people have jobs they will not need hand outs from the government.
    So why don't you end all of the fictional Heath Care and hand outs mess and start working on fixing the economy.

    Its the economy Stupid.

    March 7, 2010 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  6. liberal wing nut

    Considering the constant continued job loss it's probably correct. Maybe Obama should consider his focus there instead.

    March 7, 2010 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  7. Nosey Canadians should mind their own business

    Republicans could care less who loses anything as long as it isnt them.

    March 7, 2010 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  8. Rob Pearce

    The power of the dollar can also work for the people who really want change in the way our healthcare works, but it would take a leap of faith and resolve that we seem to be lacking, simply put, cancel your health insurance and once a week show up at your local hospital complaining of chest pains, tell the Doctor that you are from another country and you don't have any identification.
    I wonder how long the insurance companies would last without all those premiums in the mail. The hospitals would be overwhelmed and demand that something be passed in congress right away.
    The people could then demand that the insurance companies become non-profit and America would become a country worthy of its christian values. Either that or take "In God We Trust" off of our money and replace it with " Everyman For Himself".

    March 7, 2010 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  9. Larry

    More items without facts . . . politicans are showing the children of our country that it is OK to lie.

    March 7, 2010 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  10. ShiWms in AZ

    Kudo's to the Obama administration!

    Keep up the good work!

    March 7, 2010 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  11. BeverlyNC

    What difference does it make whether 5 people of 50,000 people lose their insurance every day?

    Americans are suffering from lack of decent, fair, and affordable healthcare insurance. We are ALL being abused by the insurance industry and it needs to STOP now!

    I am so sick of Republican lies and whining and making people fear what will be a far better system of protections for them.

    Let's get healthcare passed however it takes to get it done and the move onto re-regulating the banks! Of course, Republicans are against that too!

    Americans have a right to decent healthcare they can count on. We don't deserve the abuses we have to endure from insurance companies, banks, and large corporations. That's why you only see the Democrats fighting for us. They are the Party of the People and the Republicans have done nothing all year but try to stop everything that would help working families. They are totally slaves to the corporate world and work against we the People.

    March 7, 2010 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  12. Jerry

    Still doesn't take into account how many can't afford COBRA even with subsidies, or how many take lower-paying jobs or jobs with no benefits and can't afford/get insurance with their new employer, or they have to wait for eligibility, or any of a number of other scenarios which leave people stranded as far as health care. This is kind of like reporting that the situation in Haiti is better today than last week. For the ones who are suffering it's still a catastrophe.

    March 7, 2010 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  13. acfaber291

    does CNN have a rep at the DNC meetings or do they wire in via conference call?

    March 7, 2010 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  14. John

    Why is it that the media in referring to any organization wih a Democratic base is always referred to as a liberal leaning think tank while seldom is it mentioned when referring to the much more numerous right wing supported think tanks that they might be right wing conservative organizations? As to the numbers quoted in this article just where does the author get his facts since he obviously does not know how many people who have lost thier jobs have signed up for Cobra? I would suggest that the majority are hardly in a postiton to pay the still outrageous fees charged by the insurance companies even with a subsidy.

    March 7, 2010 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  15. Liberalism is a Mental Disorder

    Surprise, Surprise, surprise....the BHO administration spouting LIES once again.....SHOCKER!

    March 7, 2010 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  16. howie

    Just trying to sell Obama's health plan.

    March 7, 2010 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  17. John Merenda

    I certainly hope that Democrats will start acting like they won the presidential election as well as a substantial majority in both houses of Congress. Please lead! The Republicans at this point are irrelevant. This November the American voters will decide whether the health bill if passed, was worth the fight, and that's the way it should be. If I'm correct, Americans will be pleased with the necessary reforms of this bill. I think the Republicans are concerned that a victory for Democrats on the health bill will resonate positively with the voters especially if Democrats explain the merits of the bill between now and November. Get to work Democrats. You still have a chance for victory in November. Support our president. If he wins, you will also.

    March 7, 2010 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  18. Chipster

    The point is that too many people no longer have health insurance and access to health care. They either cannot afford the outrageous premiums or they've lost their jobs that provided health coverage. Too many small businesses are dropping health insurance because they cannot afford the premiums and employees cannot afford to pay their share anymore. The Defense Department is struggling with health care costs and taxpayers cannot afford to pay for the uninsured when they go to emergency rooms. Without preventive care, they wait until their condition is life threatening and costs more to treat.

    Republican Tim Pawlenty's answer to that is: Emergency rooms should be able to turn patients away to cut costs. I guess that's what they mean by "Compassionate Conservatism."

    March 7, 2010 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  19. Perry

    Matt, everything from "But since then..." including the "bottom line" is speculation. That isn't an answer to the question.

    But there is good news in your piece. We aren't hemorrhaging jobs like we once were. And the COBRA subsidy is helping laid off workers as well.

    Here is some of the well deserved help for Main Street.

    March 7, 2010 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  20. Old Farmboy

    So, in other words. She doesn't really know what she's talking about and just sprouted off numbers based on the worse, just to prove to us, the foolish, that The One will save us all...

    March 7, 2010 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  21. Fired Up...Ready to Go!!!

    Keep up the good work President Obama!

    March 7, 2010 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  22. Kate

    She is right. Health care is a right. Every person on this planet deserves health care no matter what. If we had all the money GW Bush administration spent on the war and we still have to spend to get out of them, it would go along way to take care of people's health.

    March 7, 2010 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  23. Carolyn

    Watch out – health insurance is going to be the next bubble to pop.

    March 7, 2010 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  24. Henry Miller, Libertarian, Cary, NC

    Do politicians ever tell the truth?

    March 7, 2010 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  25. Ken in NC

    That number on the decrease is fine but it's still of little or no comfort to the family of 4 who get $250.00 a week for unemployement and $200.00 a month in food stamps when the COBRA payment is $756.00 and the laid off family member must pay $500.00 of it from his $250.00 a week.

    The number quoted could just as well be 115,00 losing insurance a day instead of 15,000.

    March 7, 2010 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
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