By 2019, 24 million fewer people would be uninsured if the House version of the health reform bill is retained in final legislation, and those still left out of coverage will be younger, healthier, and wealthier than if changes don't occur, according to a simulation model issued by the RAND Corp.
"Our findings show that the policy changes in the House bill would extend health coverage to a substantial number of currently uninsured Americans," said Elizabeth A. McGlynn, co-leader of the RAND COMPARE project, an ongoing analysis of reform provisions and associate director.
The project drew these additional conclusions about the impacts of the Affordable Health Care for America Act, (H.R. 3962):
The RAND analysis was limited just to those portions of H.R. 3962 that focused on insurance coverage.
The bill as now worded calls for a "guaranteed issue," which means that insurance companies must sell health plans to anyone who wants to buy them, and price can vary only on the basis of age, family composition, and geography. The most expensive policy can be only twice as expensive policy.
The RAND analysis noted that in the absence of a penalty levied on people who did not comply with the individual mandate, 4.9 million fewer people would obtain coverage. But increasing the penalty from 2.5% of adjusted gross income to 3.5% would increase coverage by less than 1 million.
"Our results are consistent with the aggregate estimates from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), although CBO projects a more rapid decrease in the rate of uninsured than we assume in our model," the analysts wrote.
The CBO also estimated that about 6 million fewer people will remain uninsured in 2019, which the analysts attributed to the fact that they estimated a lower average take-up rate for Medicaid.