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New research finds that Obamacare covers fewer previously-uninsured people than government statistics suggest. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Democrats and mainstream media outlets often claim Obamacare expanded coverage to 20 million individuals, based on surveys by the Department of Health and Human Services. However, new research finds that Obamacare covers far fewer previously-uninsured people than government statistics suggest.

A recent report by the nonpartisan American Action Forum finds that many Obamacare enrollees already had reliable access to health insurance prior to the healthcare law. An estimated 4.9 million new Medicaid enrollees, roughly 33 percent of the 14.5 million Medicaid expansion population, were already eligible before Obamacare expanded the program.

This report echoes earlier studies that show many Medicaid expansion enrollees were already eligible before the healthcare law. Last year, analysis from the RAND Corporation found that 6.1 million new Medicaid enrollees were already eligible for Medicaid. MIT economist and Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber estimates that nearly 9 million new Medicaid enrollees were already eligible.

The American Action Forum also noted that many individuals signing up for private health insurance on Healthcare.gov and state-based exchanges already had insurance before Obamacare. The consulting firm McKinsey & Company estimates that 6 million exchange enrollees, or 75 percent of all exchange enrollees, had pre-Obamacare coverage. The Kaiser Family Foundation found that as many as 57 percent of Obamacare’s recipients were previously insured.

A major reason why so many Obamacare enrollees were previously insured is because many had to sign-up after the healthcare law canceled their coverage. According to the RAND Corporation, nearly 6 million people lost employer-sponsored coverage after Obamacare’s mandates made it virtually impossible for their employers to provide health benefits.

There’s no question that Republican efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare will have major consequences for Americans living under the healthcare law. But as the American Action Forum demonstrates, many of Obamacare’s enrollees already had reliable access to health insurance before it came onto the scene.

Charlie Katebi is a contributor to the Washington Examiner’s Beltway Confidential blog. He is an advocate at Young Voices and a health policy analyst at the Wyoming Liberty Group. Thinking of submitting an op-ed to the Washington Examiner? Be sure to read our guidelines on submissions.

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