Obamacare Enrollment Party.. or is it too soon?

Sad Party

The Obamacare numbers are not quite worth celebrating yet..

Yesterday afternoon, the White House tweeted that Obamacare reached 11.4 million signups.

Two things to note:

  • The Administration touts this number to support the premise that Obamacare is actually working.
  • Signup numbers don’t reflect who is actually paying for coverage.

In this article by Avik Roy of Forbes, he explains why the administration should not be celebrating just yet*:

In order to actually gain health insurance coverage—that is, a health insurer will pay for your health care claims when you go to the doctor—you have to pay the first month’s premiums.

Not everyone does. Last year, the Obama administration reported that about 8 million people signed up by “selecting a marketplace plan” on one of the Obamacare exchanges. By the end of the enrollment year, 6.7 million people were actually enrolled in Obamacare-sponsored private insurance plans: a retention rate of 84%.

As a consequence of the lower numbers, the CBO has been rolling back the numbers

Another way to look at the CBO estimates: in 2010, the CBO predicted that the exchanges would gain 5 million enrollees in 2015 vs. the previous year; last month, the CBO predicted gains of 6 million. The actual number? 3 million.

If there is anything to take away from all this is that Obamacare works for some, but not as many as the White House wants you to believe.  While the numbers of people who actually pay for coverage versus signups is not any different than the private market trends, the exchanges have really not gotten more uninsured off the rolls as you’d expect in the second year.  There are still an estimated 30 million still uninsured.

And let’s not forget that not everyone is happy.  There are many stories out there of general discontent, including my own.  The latest problem has been with the IRS and the missing 1095-A form which is precluding a lot of people from filing taxes until its available.  This idea of having the government solve social issues seems to get more and more bad press.  So let’s not celebrate just yet.

* – One note about Avik Roy’s statement about insurance coverage and having the insurance provider pay coverage:  All of the plans have deductibles.  You ARE GOING TO PAY an out of pocket cost to some extent.  Most people will have $3000 deductibles and max out of pocket costs of $6000-7000 a year.  So having coverage and actually having the insurance company pay the claim are two different things.  You’re going to be out a few grand each year, which will beg the question, “Why am I paying an insurance premium?”

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