Obamacare enrollments down in February

Rick Moran
The Department of Health and Human Services announced that about 940,000 people signed up for an Obamacare insurance plan last month - far short of the number needed to reach the administration's lowered goal of 6 million enrollees by the end of this month.

Politico:

Yet the pace of new sign-ups wasn’t appreciably stronger than in January, when 1.1 million people selected health plans. That appears to be largely because there were fewer days in February than there were in the previous month’s report, but it’s an explanation that doesn’t help support messaging about major momentum.

Administration officials hope they’ll turn that around as they intensify outreach efforts through the March 31 enrollment deadline. The latest update shows that sign-ups will have to go a lot faster this month for the administration to reach even its lowered target.

The administration is aiming to enroll about 6 million people by the end of March — a goal that was revised down from 7 million after the disastrous start to HealthCare.gov five months ago. It will need to double the February sign-up rate to hit that mark.

“They are yet again going to fall short of their goals. They are not going to get to 6 million,” said Douglas Holtz-Eakin of the American Action Forum, a critic of the law.

Like previous enrollment reports, Tuesday’s report didn’t say how many of the new customers have actually paid for their coverage — which they need to do to be fully enrolled — or how many were previously uninsured.

The insurance companies report that about 20% of enrollees end up failing to pay the first month's premium for coverage. That means the real number of enrollees for February was about 750,000.

The new report showed basically no change since January in the age mix of the people signing up. About a quarter of the sign-ups over the first five months of enrollment were individuals ages 18 through 35, a key demographic sought by insurers to help offset the cost of covering older, typically sicker enrollees.

That figure came before President Barack Obama’s most highly publicized pitch to young adults — his interview with Zach Galifianakis on the comedy website Funny or Die, which the White House credited with driving traffic to the HealthCare.gov enrollment site on Tuesday.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the administration is expecting an enrollment surge in March, and she pointed to similar upticks in enrollment when the Medicare drug benefit launched and when Massachusetts embarked on its similar health reform effort.

“We know that millions of Americans are obtaining the security of affordable health coverage,” she said on a conference call.

The administration also claims that 4.4 million people were determined to be eligible for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program through state and federal marketplaces. There is no way to tell how many of those actually signed up for Medicaid, whether they had always been eligible for the program, or whether they became eligible as a result of the expanded paramaters of the program (133% above the poverty line).

A couple of observations:

1. Why make a big deal about enrollment numbers? The law says everyone must buy insurance, so it's absurd to get excited over people who obey the law. I think it far more significant that millions have NOT signed up for Obamacare. Those people are making a statement of defiance which is far more telling than someone who simply obeys the law in order to avoid IRS action.

2. The rate of young people signing up remains at about 25% of total enrollees. That's barely enough to keep the program from collapsing and will almost certainly trigger bailout provisions of the ACA for insurance companies.

3. The administration has been moving the goalposts on enrollment targets, starting at 7 million, going to 6 million, and now Vice President Biden saying last month that about 5 million are expected to enroll. Those numbers should increase next enrollment period starting after the November elections when millions more are tossed off their employer based insurance and thrown on to the exchanges.

The surprises never stop with Obamacare.


 
 

 

The Department of Health and Human Services announced that about 940,000 people signed up for an Obamacare insurance plan last month - far short of the number needed to reach the administration's lowered goal of 6 million enrollees by the end of this month.

Politico:

Yet the pace of new sign-ups wasn’t appreciably stronger than in January, when 1.1 million people selected health plans. That appears to be largely because there were fewer days in February than there were in the previous month’s report, but it’s an explanation that doesn’t help support messaging about major momentum.

Administration officials hope they’ll turn that around as they intensify outreach efforts through the March 31 enrollment deadline. The latest update shows that sign-ups will have to go a lot faster this month for the administration to reach even its lowered target.

The administration is aiming to enroll about 6 million people by the end of March — a goal that was revised down from 7 million after the disastrous start to HealthCare.gov five months ago. It will need to double the February sign-up rate to hit that mark.

“They are yet again going to fall short of their goals. They are not going to get to 6 million,” said Douglas Holtz-Eakin of the American Action Forum, a critic of the law.

Like previous enrollment reports, Tuesday’s report didn’t say how many of the new customers have actually paid for their coverage — which they need to do to be fully enrolled — or how many were previously uninsured.

The insurance companies report that about 20% of enrollees end up failing to pay the first month's premium for coverage. That means the real number of enrollees for February was about 750,000.

The new report showed basically no change since January in the age mix of the people signing up. About a quarter of the sign-ups over the first five months of enrollment were individuals ages 18 through 35, a key demographic sought by insurers to help offset the cost of covering older, typically sicker enrollees.

That figure came before President Barack Obama’s most highly publicized pitch to young adults — his interview with Zach Galifianakis on the comedy website Funny or Die, which the White House credited with driving traffic to the HealthCare.gov enrollment site on Tuesday.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the administration is expecting an enrollment surge in March, and she pointed to similar upticks in enrollment when the Medicare drug benefit launched and when Massachusetts embarked on its similar health reform effort.

“We know that millions of Americans are obtaining the security of affordable health coverage,” she said on a conference call.

The administration also claims that 4.4 million people were determined to be eligible for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program through state and federal marketplaces. There is no way to tell how many of those actually signed up for Medicaid, whether they had always been eligible for the program, or whether they became eligible as a result of the expanded paramaters of the program (133% above the poverty line).

A couple of observations:

1. Why make a big deal about enrollment numbers? The law says everyone must buy insurance, so it's absurd to get excited over people who obey the law. I think it far more significant that millions have NOT signed up for Obamacare. Those people are making a statement of defiance which is far more telling than someone who simply obeys the law in order to avoid IRS action.

2. The rate of young people signing up remains at about 25% of total enrollees. That's barely enough to keep the program from collapsing and will almost certainly trigger bailout provisions of the ACA for insurance companies.

3. The administration has been moving the goalposts on enrollment targets, starting at 7 million, going to 6 million, and now Vice President Biden saying last month that about 5 million are expected to enroll. Those numbers should increase next enrollment period starting after the November elections when millions more are tossed off their employer based insurance and thrown on to the exchanges.

The surprises never stop with Obamacare.