The plethora of regulations and subsidies imposed on the American health-care system by Obamacare since its main provisions began to take effect in 2013 have resulted in many disruptions and fostered enormous uncertainty regarding the future of private medical insurance in our nation.
But data recently released by the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS, see the link below for more information) show that Obamacare has yet to change one important longstanding trend regarding health insurance: The number of people with private coverage, either through their employer or by direct purchase, is continuing to grow far more rapidly in states that protect employees from termination for refusal to join or pay dues to an unwanted union than it is in other states.
From 2013 to 2014, according to the ACS data, the total number of people covered by private-health insurance living in the 24 states that then had Right to Work laws (Wisconsin’s ban on forced union dues wasn’t adopted until this year) rose by 4.0%, nearly double the 2.1% aggregate increase in forced-unionism states.
Among the 16 bottom-ranking states for percentage growth in private-health insurance coverage last year, 15 (Alaska, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and West Virginia) lack Right to Work protections for employees. The sole exception was Wyoming.
Of course, the Right to Work advantage in increasing access to private health insurance long predates Obamacare’s implementation. From 2002 to 2012, the number of forced-unionism state residents with private coverage actually fell by 4.9%, while in Right to Work states (excluding Indiana and Michigan, whose laws weren’t adopted until 2012, as well as Wisconsin), private coverage increased by 1.6%.
Five-and-a-half years after it was first signed into law and two years after its main provisions began to take effect, Obamacare remains unpopular with the American people and its future is uncertain. But regardless of this law’s fate, decades of experience indicate that, as long as politicians allow private health insurance companies to stay in business, private insurance markets will be far healthier in states where the Right to Work is protected than in states where it isn’t.