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March 12 2014

Slow and Unsteady Doesn’t Win the Race

Patrice J. Lee

New ObamaCare enrollment numbers were released yesterday. Despite an uptick in signups in February, indications are that the Administration will not meet its six or seven million enrollment target by the end of March. Furthermore, we’ve learned that potentially a million of those who are counted as “enrolled” have not yet submitted payment.

With this news, the President and the Administration are likely waking up mighty nervous this morning.

According to Health and Human Services, more than 4.2 million people selected Marketplace plans from Oct. 1 through the end of February. This includes 1.6 million in the state exchanges and 2.6 million in the federal marketplace. Last month‘s signups totaled about 943,000 people.

With a little more than two weeks before the end of open enrollment on March 31, the Administration needs a miracle to find another 2.8 million people to sign up so that it can hit its original enrollment target. Even working off a scaled back six million target, they still need almost two million people. If this pace of signups continues, it doesn’t look likely they will make it over the finish line.

Demographic information also reveals that despite everything the Administration has done, young people are still not signing up for ObamaCare’s bad deal. Only 25 percent of signups are between the ages of 18 and 34. As we know, this is a critical group. The system depends on about 40 percent of young, healthy people to offset the costs of older, sicker Americans. The effects will be felt as insurers adjust their rates based on this new mix and longer term, this system will become unsustainable.

And there’s another piece of news that ought to worry the Administration. These “enrollment” numbers should carry a huge asterisk beside them because potentially over a million people have yet to pay for their new plans. As we’ve highlighted before, simply selecting a plan and placing it in your shopping cart qualifies as enrollment for the Administration. That’s a big disconnect with insurers who define enrollment as paying for your first month of coverage. It’s no different from when you shop online. I can fill my online cart with items I want, but until I submit payment, there is no order and I won’t receive anything. In a haste to pad the numbers, the Administration has been loose with its definition of enrollment. This issue has flown under the radar until now.

The U.K. Daily Mail uncovers the numbers:

As of March 1 about 4.2 million Americans had signed up for medical insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act, according to numbers released Tuesday by the Obama administration. But it remains unclear how many of those enrollees have put their money where their mouse is.

Combined figures published by Obamacare marketplaces in California, Connecticut, Maryland, Nevada, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington indicate that just 79 per cent of signups in those states have come with checks attached.

If those numbers were to hold up nationally, it would mean that about 1.1 million Obamacare enrollees have selected insurance plans without paying for them – bringing the actual total of Obamacare-insured Americans down to 3.3 million.

A Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services spokesman told MailOnline last month that the agency hasn't 'prioritized' reporting its payment statistics, but plans to do so 'once our automated payment systems are completed and fully tested.'

CMS manages health insurance exchanges for 14 states and the District of Columbia.

All together, the seven states where both enrollment and payment numbers have been published have signed up 1.05 million people, but reported that just 835,000 have paid premiums.

The President and ObamaCare supporters have a big problem on their hands. His signature legislation is falling apart. Designing a policy as massive and sweeping as ObamaCare worked out nicely on paper to them, but real life has presented challenges, the largest being that Americans don’t want ObamaCare. Add to that the myriad unintended consequences: millions of Americans are uninsured because of ObamaCare, many more have worse options and worse care. American workers face cuts in hours and pay cuts while others will remain unemployed as companies decide not to hire or because they’ve been incentivized to stay at home. The list goes on.

This fall Democrats will have a hard time defending ObamaCare during fall elections. The President will have an even more difficult time rehabilitating his legacy after he leaves office.

 

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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