March 7th, 2010
06:15 PM ET
5 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Sebelius cited was based on the rapid growth of unemployment at the depths of the recent recession and is most likely out of date.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. jules sand-perkins

    Fifteen thousand a day? No, of course not.
    Sibelius knows, as do others in the administration, that many Obama supporters will not question such figures because it's hard for them to comprehend how many persons that would be daily and the effect it would have, and also because Kool-Aid addicts are so anxious to believe anything President Obama says.

    March 7, 2010 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  2. J.C. - Independent 4 Public Option

    COBRA is a very expensive program. A friend of mine lost her job and had to use COBRA. She couldn't afford it without a job so she is uninsured.

    If the Senate has term limits, I am sure most senators will support health care reform and Universal Health Care.

    March 7, 2010 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  3. dan

    OK – let's be honest. It's a lie

    March 7, 2010 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  4. Dave

    Typical grasping at straws from the liberals. They always trying to appeal to the uninformed.

    March 7, 2010 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  5. J.C. - Independent 4 Public Option

    Our VA is a very efficient and economic health care system that mirrors the British national health care system. Who says our government doesn't know how to run health care?

    Not a single person I know is not eager to join Medicare, another government-run health care system. However, Medicare will collapse soon if we don't start adding younger subscribers into the system. Although it was a needed idea, the insured pool cannot spread the risk when you only allow seniors to participate in the program.

    March 7, 2010 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  6. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    No matter how they lose it, people are still losing their ability to hold onto medical insurance. If they can't see the doctor they want and be able to afford it, that should be causing some level of concern. It doesn't seem that the Republicans really have a problem with people losing their ability to get affordable health care insurance.

    March 7, 2010 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  7. LeAnn

    Now do you see what happens when you do absolutely nothing? Or see what happens when you leave us to wait for this bill to pass? So many people are getting sicker because they can't afford to see a doctor. So many are losing coverage because of bogus reasons from insurance companies just to save a buck....

    This has to stop!

    March 7, 2010 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  8. John

    The republican party is a front for the Insurance Industry and other Corporations that seek to screw the American Middle Class for profits – enough said!

    March 7, 2010 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  9. John

    Wow – Mr Matt Smith, are you paid by the Republican Party? Your conclusions seem to be pretty politically seasoned.

    March 7, 2010 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  10. Chris Matt

    you can trust dems to cite out correct data! Oh how we miss the Republican admistration. although, if we had the repubs in power, what would we have to complain about?

    March 7, 2010 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  11. Ancient Texan

    The libs are constantly pulling "pie in the sky numbers" out of the air. They can't prove any of them, but seem convinced that disproving them are just as difficult. Their agendas might be a little more believable is something a little more truthful was claimed.

    March 7, 2010 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  12. I WANT MINES

    they cnt even tell us how many jobs they have saved or created with the money they stole from us so how the hell can they tell us how many people are losing ins coverage

    TALK ABOUT SCARE TACTICS
    MEDICARE IS GOING UNDER AND THEY THINK THEY CAN RUN A MAJOR HEALTH CARE REFORM?

    WAKE UP PEOPLE WAKE UP SOCIALISM IS IN THE WHITE HOUSE

    DICTATORSHIP IS NEXT

    March 7, 2010 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  13. Dimslie

    That's a straw man. It doesn't matter whether it's true or not in the context of whether or not we need Obama to take over health care. We need Obama to go back to Chicago and do some more "community organizing".

    March 7, 2010 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  14. sto

    The fact that we have ANY uninsured people is bad for business and bad for the economy. Our health care system provides government health insurance (Medicare) to the vast majority of those 65 and over. Those under 65 struggle to get or keep insurance, especially if they are unemployed. Those under 65 need to pay into the system in premiums, because statistically younger people get sick less frequently, and their monthly premiums and lower claims help keep insurance companies (private and public) afloat.

    March 7, 2010 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  15. Anne

    I am one of the person's Obama talks about in the quest to pass a healthcare bill. Never unemployed until now, I cannot afford the premium cost that went from 284.00 a month to 796.00 on UIS. Fortunately, I do not have serious health issues, but have discontinued ERT because of the prescription cost of over $200.00 per month, which is totally outrageous.

    Something needs to be done, and now. People cannot depend on employers to provide them with health insurance because of the unpredicability of the economic environment. UIS should cover people with health care benefits until they are able to find employement again.

    It's imperative this issue be done now!

    March 7, 2010 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  16. Kathleen

    10,000 or 15,000 Fact Check don't make a difference when people are dying from lack of Health Care.

    Give or take a little on that one, CNN! If you fact check it and find out it is 12,000 Americans a day losing coverage, what difference does that make? You can quit fact checking on this one. This is a life or death matter for mant people. How can you count? or miscount. Factual would be "thousands upon thousands of people a day are losing Health Care! And thousands a week are DYING!!!!!!!

    March 7, 2010 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  17. Colin Brown

    I work for a major bank. I have a premium health plan with United Health Care. United has raised my deductible to the point I'm cancelling my quarterly health checks as I need to pay other bills. I have to reach $750 in bills before they'll kick in a little bit. I've also stopped taking my most expensive anti-cholestorol medication to save money. My company pays them a large amount of money for this misery.

    March 7, 2010 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  18. J.V.Hodgson

    If you are fact checking and agree some independent numbers 14K or 15K and that the Administrations efforts cut that by new rules the basic bottom line is:-
    "1) As Unemployment was growing thru 2008 and 2009 basically true, offset by Obama admin new Cobra policy policy. "
    In the current environment the risk is to people or companies who cannot afford the increases at the levels currently being propoised by insurers as I read it In California alone 800,000 were asked for 50% plus increases, you add in the other states where ridiculously high increases are being asked for and you could easily have in excess of 1.5 people at least at risk and therefore that would last another 100 days. add therfeore:-
    2) the current large increases being requested by insurers could lead to similar losses even now of 15,000 per day for some time.
    What they have said is mostly true, or true without qualification.
    Regards,
    Hodgson.

    March 7, 2010 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  19. Bek

    The numbers of people who are losing health insurance on a daily average should be growing exponentially already, or at the very least, soon. COBRA coverage is typically available for 18 months (with some exceptions that may extend it). People are being priced out of new insurance plans, if not just pushed away from them because of pre-existing conditions.
    Our $1500/month COBRA plan (without subsidy as my husband lost his job three weeks before the eligibility date for the subsidy) for our family of three was quoted at $2200/month just for my husband (with a sizable deductible and coinsurance).
    With no income, $2200 is more than slightly out of reach, as was $1500 (bye bye retirement, hello credit card debt). So now, with pre-existing conditions, we are (sadly and shamefully) members of the uninsured population, and we are digging ourselves into a debt hole just trying to stay alive.
    Hopefully, there are jobs around the corner.
    I expect the number of people in our situation will begin growing exponentially, regardless of current job loss rates.

    March 7, 2010 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  20. so rich even obama couldn't hurt me but you middle class folk should worry

    jeez that's odd..... then why don't you geniuses draft a bill that will cover people BEFORE 2014??????? what a joke this bunch is....

    March 8, 2010 01:12 am at 1:12 am |
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