Jonathan Tobin on Obamacare 'fake enrollment numbers'

The administration recently announced that Obamacare enrollments have passed the 5 million mark. As I have written previously, it is ridiculous to make a big deal out of how many people have signed up for Obamacare when the law asseses penalties if they don't.

But Commentary's Jonathan Tobin points out why these numbers are bogus anyway:

But before the president and his team start popping the champagne corks to celebrate their achievement and their faux hipness, it’s time once again to point out that the administration’s Potemkin enrollment figures should be read with a truckload of salt. As the New York Times reported last month, as much as 20 percent of all those enrolled had not actually paid their premiums, meaning they were not covered by the program. While Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius told Congress she had no idea what the numbers of unpaid enrollees were, more states are reporting these figures and, as CNBC reported last week, the results are literally all over the map. While some states report high pay rates, others like Maryland say only 54 percent have paid.

All this calls in to question not only the effectiveness of the sales job done by the president and celebrity supporters such as Lebron James. It also means that the odds that this system can sustain itself without mandating vast increases in rates for those who do pay are getting slimmer every day.


For months we’ve been told by the administration that the only problem with ObamaCare was a “glitchy” website that had since been fixed. But what has since become clear is that the effort to convince young and healthy Americans to sign up for insurance that is both expensive and not something they may need is a failure. Though many of those who clearly benefit from the new health law, such as the poor and those with pre-existing conditions, have signed up, the scheme requires large numbers of those who won’t need the coverage as often in order to be economically viable. That problem will be exacerbated by the failure of much larger percentages of customers to pay for their insurance.

As we’ve noted previously, the non-payment of the premium is not a technicality. Many of those purchasing the insurance may be first-time buyers and not understand that they must pay their bill before coverage starts rather than long after the fact, as they can with a credit card transaction. Or it may be that some enrolled with no intention of paying or thinking that the hype about the glories of ObamaCare they’ve heard in the mainstream media and from the president absolved them of the obligation to pay for it. But either way, the large number of non-payments renders the enrollment figures meaningless and ensures that the rates for those who do pay are going up next year by percentages that will shock them.

Tobin doesn't mention that insurance companies will be able to collect up to 80% of their losses courtesy of the American taxpayer. That should mitigate - for this year anyway - any huge increases in premiums for those already signed up. Besides, the announcement of rate increases has been delayed past the 2014 mid terms. 

Note how quickly the administration announced the 5 million enrollee number. This is in stark contrast to how other information about Obamacare has been forthcoming from the White House. They are treating most enrollment information as it it was a nuclear secret. It hardly matters, as Tobin points out. The numbers are bogus anyway.

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