Census overhaul will obscure ObamaCare first-year effects

Posted by on Apr 15, 2014 at 12:42 pm

Changes to this year’s census will make it difficult to assess how many people gained health insurance as a result of ObamaCare’s first year of open enrollment, according to a report.

The reported overhaul of census questions on health insurance arrives as politicians, journalists and researchers await official data on how many people gained and lost coverage in the last year.

The changes are reportedly intended to improve the survey’s accuracy. They will likely mark a “break in trend” for census health insurance data, making it hard to compared the 2014 report to past reports.

The revisions and their potential to obscure ObamaCare’s impact on the insurance market were first reported Tuesday by The New York Times.

“We are expecting much lower numbers just because of the questions and how they are asked,” Brett J. O’Hara, chief of the health statistics branch at the Census Bureau, told the paper.

A test of the revised questions last year produced lower estimates of the uninsured, according to an internal bureau document obtained by the Times.

So it will be difficult to assess whether lower numbers of uninsured in the next report, due out this fall, are because of survey changes or the healthcare law or both.

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