October 11 2013
ObamaCare: Behind the "I Don't Know" Meme...
Patrice J. Lee
Numbers are leaking out about ObamaCare’s enrollment following its first week and the Administration is playing the “I Know Nothing” game. Thanks to the government shutdown these numbers may not get much ink but we’re happy to bring them to you.
It appears that on October 1, just 6,200 Americans applied for health insurance through the perpetually broken healthcare.gov website. By the end of the week a whopping 51,000 Americans reportedly managed to complete their ObamaCare applications. These figures were confirmed for the U.K. website MailOnline by two sources at Health and Human Services (HHS).
The MailOnline breaks down the numbers and what they mean for the success of ObamaCare:
* Obamacare's main sign-up engine attracted just 6,200 new customers on its launch day and 51,000 after the first week
* At the same rate, the 6-month open enrollment period would sign up just 2 million Americans, including 14 states and D.C., which have their own insurance exchanges
* The Congressional Budget Office says ObamaCare needs at least 7 million customers to stay afloat financially
The Administration is embarrassed and trying to disavow knowledge of these numbers. They claim not know how many people actually applied for health insurance. Earlier this week HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius insisted that she did not know how many people signed in to the online health insurance exchanges.
When pressed by Jon Steward on the Daily Show she said, "Fully enrolled, I can't tell you, because I don't know. We are taking applications on the web, on the phone, and we'll be giving monthly reports, but I can tell you we've had not only lots of web hits, humdreds of thousands of accounts created.
CNN's Anderson Cooper isn’t taking “I don’t know” for an answer:
"The other thing that they can’t give you a figure on how many people have actually signed up I just don’t buy. I mean, I just don’t believe that, you know, because, and they’re, you know, what they're, what they’re promoting is, “Well, we had all these unique visitors. We had an overwhelming number of people actually looking.” But actually signing up, actually creating accounts, the fact they’re not able to give numbers to me, I just, I just don’t buy that they don’t have those numbers.”
Opponents of ObamaCare suggest that this demonstrates Americans are rejecting the healthcare takeover, but I'm not entirely convinced. Americans aren't overwhelmingly excited about the biggest takeover of healthcare as over half think it won’t help with healthcare costs, but other issues are likely at play.
Many people logging in to healthcare.gov have been frustrated by the crashes, error messages, and delays with the website. As we’ve reported, experts attribute this to a shoddy website design and structure. During the summer reports surfaced that testing deadlines for the website were missed or would be missed in the rush to make October 1 but nothing was made of that.
Also, apparently many Americans – especially the uninsured – don’t know about ObamaCare. According to Gallup three in four uninsured Americans are unfamiliar with the ObamaCare health exchange. However, over 60% of those people plan to buy health insurance. Only time will tell what they do.
Eventually, the Administration will have to provide transparency around ObamaCare and instead of giving fluffy numbers like the number of unique website hits, they must tell us how many people actually successfully enrolled and what average premiums are. But those may be numbers that they don’t want to know.