February 14 2014
Slowing to a Crawl
Patrice J. Lee
The Administration is boasting about new ObamaCare enrollment numbers, but they may want to hold off on the celebrations. While Americans are signing up, enrollments in states are uneven with some slowing to a crawl. In addition, no one knows whether enrollees were previously uninsured, the ultimate goal of the President’s signature legislation.
According to Health and Human Services, 3.3 million Americans have signed up through February 1, up from 2.2 enrollments at the end of December. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius calls that “very, very encouraging news”, but that’s not even half way to the Administration’s seven-million target for the end of March. As The Weekly Standard explains, weekly enrollment has dropped 49 percent. And don’t forget that we still don’t know how many people have actually paid for their new plans – the real definition of enrollment.
At this current pace, with no technical issues over the next month and a half, it would take an Olympic effort for the Administration to get over the seven-million enrollment finish line.
The picture is even less rosy for state healthcare exchanges. In some states, enrollments have slowed to a trickle and that is a worry for state and federal officials as well as insurance companies. It may also be a signal of what’s to come for the federal healthcare exchange.
The Washington Post reports that Connecticut is the nation’s top performer, signing up more than twice the number of residents it had been projected to enroll by the end of January. Florida, Idaho, Maine, Michigan, North Carolina, and Wisconsin are on pace or better. Meanwhile, Massachusetts is at the bottom of the list having met only 5 percent of its target.
Nationally, the nearly 3.3 million enrolled represent 75 percent of the signups that HHS had originally hoped to have by the end of January.
Among the states meeting or exceeding expectations, New York was the biggest. Its 211,290 sign-ups represent more than 1 1/2 times its goal. Other populous states among the top performers included Florida, Michigan, and North Carolina.
California, which leads all the states in enrollment, had met 90 percent of its goal with 728,086 signed up.
Texas, which has the highest proportion of uninsured residents of any state, was subpar. It met 53 percent of its goal.
Surprisingly, the worst performers include four jurisdictions where Obama’s law has strong support: Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon and the District of Columbia. The three states on that list have all had problems with their enrollment websites.
And Minnesota’s efforts are woeful as Investor’s Business Daily reports:
With less than seven weeks of open enrollment to go, ObamaCare enrollment — and payments — have slowed to a near-crawl in some states.
Minnesota's exchange enrollment goal of 67,000 seemed within reach on Jan. 4, when signups stood at 25,860.
But after surging by more than 4,000 per week in the prior five weeks, signups collapsed back to November's pace of less than 700 per week.
As of Feb. 1, Nevada had just 14,999 paid enrollees — vs. the state's March 31 goal of 115,000.
Washington state, meanwhile, was slightly more than halfway to its goal of 340,000 signups — but only 88,071 had paid as of Feb. 1.
Demographic data on enrollments reveal that still only a quarter of enrollments are from the coveted 18-34 demographic. ObamaCare works on the premise that young, healthy Americans will pay for older, sicker Americans. The system needs 2.7 million young people to pay for the costs of older generations. That within itself is an interesting fairness argument which has been glossed over.
We’ve reported about the Administration’s failed outreach and PR efforts to get young people to sign up for ObamaCare. For example, tomorrow is National Youth Enrollment Day. Too bad, the healthcare.gov website will be down for the count with system maintenance.
News that over two million Americans will leave the workforce because ObamaCare creates perverse incentives that reward working less (or not at all) compounds the bad news for the Administration.
At this point, the President and his ObamaCare advocates are resting on a hope and prayer that procrastination among young people will carry them over that seven-million-enrollment threshold. They’ll need all the prayer they can get. Hope is not enough to change what is a bad deal for young Americans.