Last year the Congressional Budget Office estimated that Obamacare would enroll 7 million customers by March 31, 2014, a number the administration subsequently adopted as its goal. As it became clear that that target would remain elusive, the administration proceeded to move goalposts and extend deadlines so that they would be able to claim, at the end of the open enrollment period, that they had succeeded.
Despite all their cheating and number-fudging, they still can’t make that claim.
On October 23, 2013, after three weeks of dismal healthcare.gov performance, President Obama extended the deadline for complying with the individual mandate from February 15 to March 31, 2014.
On November 22, he extended the deadline for those who wished to receive coverage starting January 1 from December 15 to December 23.
On December 12, he strong-armed insurance companies into letting consumers make their first payments by January 10 rather than January 1.
On December 23, he extended the December 23 deadline for January coverage to December 24.
On December 24, he announced that those signing up at the last minute who were having trouble with healthcare.gov could have their enrollment deadlines extended if they could prove they had tried but failed to enroll in a plan.
In February 2014, when time was running out, the administration quietly revised its enrollment target from 7 million down to 6 million. This would allow them to later falsely claim that their goal was never 7 million, and that they needed only 6 million enrollees for Obamacare to be sustainable. (Note: The administration’s original projection in 2010 was 13.9 million, which means that the 7 million target was already a 50% reduction from their original expectation.)
Yet all of these tricks haven’t been enough to carry Obamacare over the finish line. Perhaps because of the politically motivated one-year delays in the large and medium employer mandates, and the three-year delayed individual mandate for those with health plans that don’t comply with Obamacare, total enrollment isn’t predicted to hit even 6 million by March 31.
The Obama administration reported 5 million enrollees as of March 17, 2014. Democratic activist Charles Gaba, who styles himself as a Nate Silver of Obamacare enrollment prediction, correctly foresaw the date the government would hit the 5 million mark. He projects 5.4 million enrollees by March 31.
But Gaba admits that his estimate doesn’t factor in whether these enrollees end up paying their first monthly premiums. Insurance companies have estimated that about 20% of so-called enrollees never make their first payment. So even by the modified estimate of a pro-Obamacare statistician, total paid-for enrollments by the repeatedly extended deadline would be a paltry 4.3 million, or 62% of the administration’s goal.
As embarrassing as are that number and the administration’s attempts to spin it as a huge success, the crucial recruitment test is whether they get the right mix of enrollees.
Obamacare needs enrollees in the following categories, in descending order of importance: healthy young people, healthy old people, sick young people, and sick old people. Tracking healthy and sick participants is difficult, but so far the administration has enrolled a smaller-than-desired percentage of young people. The administration needs the enrollee base to consist of at least 40% young people, but they’ve hit only 25%.
So recruitment is well below the needed enrollment target, and well below the target percentage of young enrollees. In addition, there’s an elephant in the room that upends all of these calculations.
Namely, it’s still the case that more people have been kicked off their plans than have enrolled and paid for plans on the federal exchange.
Even if every single exchange enrollee had been previously uninsured, the net difference between new enrollees and those who lost their plans would be negative. But many consumers who signed up for the exchanges did so only because they were kicked off their old plans. A recent McKinsey survey revealed that only 14% of exchange enrollees had previously been uninsured, and that most who had been insured were finding replacement coverage.
Everyone knows that it’s difficult to precisely track participation in large, unwieldy programs like Obamacare. It’s understandable if groups for and against the legislation derive slightly higher or lower counts. But when Democrats cut themselves break after break in interpreting the numbers, ignore qualifiers that greatly alter, mitigate, or render their counts useless, and redefine the meaning of the word “enrollment,” we’re not talking about harmless rounding error. We’re talking about brazen mendacity.
- Four Years of Obamacare Failures Is Long Enough (forbes.com)
- Guess How Many States Are Trying to Extend Their Obamacare Enrollment Deadlines (heritage.org)
- As Deadline Looms, Obamacare Activists Act Desperate For Millennials (thecollegefix.com)
- Obamacare enrollment tops 5 million since Oct. 1: White House (nydailynews.com)
- Obamacare Deadline Approaching (wnep.com)