Report: Administration Likely to Release Fuzzy Numbers on Obamacare

Image: Report: Administration Likely to Release Fuzzy Numbers on Obamacare

Wednesday, 06 Nov 2013 08:35 AM

By Elliot Jager

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The Department of Health and Human Services will release Obamacare enrollment statistics next week, but it is not clear how inclusive they will be.

"A foggy, imprecise data release would signal a continued effort by the administration to control the flow of details about the healthcare law in the face of an unfriendly news cycle," according to The Hill.

The numbers will be compiled from various sources including call centers, paper applications, and figures from insurers and states. The administration has said it cannot provide enrollment figures from HealthCare.gov.

Timothy Jost, a healthcare academic, said demographic details would be necessary for an understanding of the risk ratio – the numbers of younger healthier enrollees compared to those who are older and less healthy, for instance.

A breakdown between private insurance on the exchanges versus Medicaid enrollees would also speak to the economic viability of the program.

The administration has been under pressure from the media, healthcare experts, and political opponents to release numbers on Obamacare for more than a month.

Federal health officials reported that 700,000 applications have been processed under Obamacare without revealing how many resulted in enrollments.

Administration officials say the data they release will be accurate but would not commit to providing comprehensive numbers.

The silence from federal health officials up to this point raises the possibility that they will release a single sign-up number that fails to shed light on how the enrollment effort is really proceeding, The Hill noted.

Steven Aftergood, an advocate for government transparency with the Federation of American Scientists, said, "There is a political battle underway and information is one of the weapons."

The administration is not interested in providing figures "that could be politically disadvantageous," he told The Hill.

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