More bad news on Obamacare enrollments for the administration

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President Obama's celebration of 8 million Obamacare enrollees was premature, according to this article in Investors Business Daily.

Major insurers are reporting large drop offs in Obamacare paying customers, that could mean the number of Americans insured by Obamacare dropping below 6 million by year's end.

ObamaCare exchange statistics should clear up any doubt as to why the Obama Administration has been tight-lipped about enrollment since celebrating 8 million sign-ups in mid-April.

Reality, evidence suggests, could require quite a come-down from those lofty claims.

The nation's third-largest health insurer had 720,000 people sign up for exchange coverage as of May 20, a spokesman confirmed to IBD. At the end of June, it had fewer than 600,000 paying customers. Aetna expects that to fall to "just over 500,000" by the end of the year.

That would leave Aetna's paid enrollment down as much as 30% from that May sign-up tally.

"I think we will see some attrition ... We're already seeing it. And we expect that to continue through the end of the year," CEO Mark Bertolini said in a July 29 conference call.

It's not clear how representative Aetna's experience is of broader exchange trends, or whether its projection may be too conservative. (If it were representative, a similar 30% decline would drop ObamaCare enrollment to 6 million or less.)

Still, as one of ObamaCare's largest players, participating in exchanges in 16 states plus D.C., Aetna's experience provides a pretty good window into what is happening across the country, and there are other indications that enrollment has turned down.

Cigna (NYSE:CI) said that it expects its individual market customers, including more than 100,000 in the exchanges, to "move from 300,000 down to 280,000 in that range," Cigna CEO David Cordani said in a conference call.

Other major insurers danced around questions about attrition on recent earnings conference calls, but none denied that it was occurring.

Another data point comes from Washington, the only state that didn't report sign-ups to HHS until they paid an initial monthly premium. As also pointed out by Charles Gaba of ACASignups.net, the state's exchange had 164,062 paid enrollees as of April 23. But the state reported 156,155 people enrolled as of June 1.

The gap between the high watermark of sign-ups and the number of current premium-paying customers reflects both those who never sent in a first payment and those who stopped paying for any number of reasons. For some, finances may have been too stretched. Some may have gotten fed up with high deductibles, and others could have switched plans so they wouldn't have to switch doctors. Still others may have found a job that came with health benefits, or others lost income and qualified for Medicaid.

Despite the losses, you can bet the White House narrative on Obamacare won't change. They will continue to claim 8 million enrollees and no contrary evidence will be allowed.

Whether it's 6 million or 8 million, it hardly matters. At least 4 times that many people didn't sign up and that's far more significant than those who obeyed the individual mandate law and bought insurance.

And those who didn't sign up - as well as those who did - are in for a rude awakening come tax time next year:

If consumers thought logging on to HealthCare.gov was a headache, sorting through complex forms ahead of tax deadline day 2015 is their next big Obamacare challenge.

The health care law’s benefits are rolling out, but its major math problems start next year as the IRS tries to ensure that millions of Americans are correctly calculating their benefits and that those who don’t have coverage are penalized unless they qualify for an exemption.

hat means much new paper-shuffling between now and April 15, which could be especially confusing for low- and middle-income Americans unaccustomed to lots of reporting to the IRS. The insurance exchanges and employers must send consumers details about their health plan and benefits or exemptions in time for them to file a tax return. If any of that information is delayed or wrong, tax refunds could be delayed.

“We’re having some trepidation,” said Judy Solomon, vice president for health policy at the liberal Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. “This is going to be another new thing just like the roll out of HealthCare.gov.”

Last month, the Obama administration released drafts of the forms employers and individuals will have to fill out. But those leave unanswered many questions about how it’ll all work. The details are expected to be included in “practical” instructions the agency plans to release later this month that will detail how to complete the new forms, the IRS said.

At this point, the new forms look “very daunting” for taxpayers, said Mark Ciaramitaro, vice president of health care services at H&R Block. “Overall, we expect the complexity level is just going to go up for a significant group of moderate- to low-income people, whether they got insurance through the marketplace or they didn’t.”

Be afraid of "practical instructions" from the IRS. Be very afraid.

And remember: you are responsible if there are mistakes made on your return. No matter how convoluted or wacky the form is, the IRS will cut you zero slack.

Tax preparation is a booming industry under this president.

Hat Tip: Ed Lasky


 

 

President Obama's celebration of 8 million Obamacare enrollees was premature, according to this article in Investors Business Daily.

Major insurers are reporting large drop offs in Obamacare paying customers, that could mean the number of Americans insured by Obamacare dropping below 6 million by year's end.

ObamaCare exchange statistics should clear up any doubt as to why the Obama Administration has been tight-lipped about enrollment since celebrating 8 million sign-ups in mid-April.

Reality, evidence suggests, could require quite a come-down from those lofty claims.

The nation's third-largest health insurer had 720,000 people sign up for exchange coverage as of May 20, a spokesman confirmed to IBD. At the end of June, it had fewer than 600,000 paying customers. Aetna expects that to fall to "just over 500,000" by the end of the year.

That would leave Aetna's paid enrollment down as much as 30% from that May sign-up tally.

"I think we will see some attrition ... We're already seeing it. And we expect that to continue through the end of the year," CEO Mark Bertolini said in a July 29 conference call.

It's not clear how representative Aetna's experience is of broader exchange trends, or whether its projection may be too conservative. (If it were representative, a similar 30% decline would drop ObamaCare enrollment to 6 million or less.)

Still, as one of ObamaCare's largest players, participating in exchanges in 16 states plus D.C., Aetna's experience provides a pretty good window into what is happening across the country, and there are other indications that enrollment has turned down.

Cigna (NYSE:CI) said that it expects its individual market customers, including more than 100,000 in the exchanges, to "move from 300,000 down to 280,000 in that range," Cigna CEO David Cordani said in a conference call.

Other major insurers danced around questions about attrition on recent earnings conference calls, but none denied that it was occurring.

Another data point comes from Washington, the only state that didn't report sign-ups to HHS until they paid an initial monthly premium. As also pointed out by Charles Gaba of ACASignups.net, the state's exchange had 164,062 paid enrollees as of April 23. But the state reported 156,155 people enrolled as of June 1.

The gap between the high watermark of sign-ups and the number of current premium-paying customers reflects both those who never sent in a first payment and those who stopped paying for any number of reasons. For some, finances may have been too stretched. Some may have gotten fed up with high deductibles, and others could have switched plans so they wouldn't have to switch doctors. Still others may have found a job that came with health benefits, or others lost income and qualified for Medicaid.

Despite the losses, you can bet the White House narrative on Obamacare won't change. They will continue to claim 8 million enrollees and no contrary evidence will be allowed.

Whether it's 6 million or 8 million, it hardly matters. At least 4 times that many people didn't sign up and that's far more significant than those who obeyed the individual mandate law and bought insurance.

And those who didn't sign up - as well as those who did - are in for a rude awakening come tax time next year:

If consumers thought logging on to HealthCare.gov was a headache, sorting through complex forms ahead of tax deadline day 2015 is their next big Obamacare challenge.

The health care law’s benefits are rolling out, but its major math problems start next year as the IRS tries to ensure that millions of Americans are correctly calculating their benefits and that those who don’t have coverage are penalized unless they qualify for an exemption.

hat means much new paper-shuffling between now and April 15, which could be especially confusing for low- and middle-income Americans unaccustomed to lots of reporting to the IRS. The insurance exchanges and employers must send consumers details about their health plan and benefits or exemptions in time for them to file a tax return. If any of that information is delayed or wrong, tax refunds could be delayed.

“We’re having some trepidation,” said Judy Solomon, vice president for health policy at the liberal Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. “This is going to be another new thing just like the roll out of HealthCare.gov.”

Last month, the Obama administration released drafts of the forms employers and individuals will have to fill out. But those leave unanswered many questions about how it’ll all work. The details are expected to be included in “practical” instructions the agency plans to release later this month that will detail how to complete the new forms, the IRS said.

At this point, the new forms look “very daunting” for taxpayers, said Mark Ciaramitaro, vice president of health care services at H&R Block. “Overall, we expect the complexity level is just going to go up for a significant group of moderate- to low-income people, whether they got insurance through the marketplace or they didn’t.”

Be afraid of "practical instructions" from the IRS. Be very afraid.

And remember: you are responsible if there are mistakes made on your return. No matter how convoluted or wacky the form is, the IRS will cut you zero slack.

Tax preparation is a booming industry under this president.

Hat Tip: Ed Lasky


 

 

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