Tags: Health Topics | Healthcare Reform | Obamacare | exchanges | private | enroll | uninsured

Forbes: Obamacare Exchanges Enroll 5M, Less Than Half Touted by WH

By    |   Thursday, 19 February 2015 06:00 PM

Earlier this week, the White House boasted that "about 11.4 million are signed up for private health coverage through Obamacare's insurance exchanges."

But once you "unravel the spin," writes Forbes healthcare expert Avik Roy, it turns out that "the pace of enrollment in Obamacare's exchanges has slowed down by more than half."

Roy says that if past trends hold true, Obamacare private exchanges actually enrolled about 5 million previously uninsured, "a far cry from 11.4 million."

A critical question, he notes, is how many of those enrolling in Obamacare were previously insured?

"If you go by White House press releases and the related coverage from friendly media outlets, you might think that every one of those enrollees was previously uninsured, and had been saved by Obamacare. Not true."

Because the Obama administration does not track those statistics, it is impossible to know with certainty the actual number of exchange enrollees who were previously uninsured. On the other hand, we do know that "at least 4.7 million Americans received cancellation notices in 2013 because Obamacare's regulations made their health plans illegal," Roy writes.

Roy, who is also a Manhattan Institute scholar, says that based on survey data from the Kaiser Family Foundation and the McKinsey management consulting firm, the actual number of previously uninsured individuals who gained coverage would be approximately 5.4 million at the conclusion of the 2015 enrollment period.

This means "the White House is being deceptive when it claims that there are 11.4 million signups 'thanks to the Affordable Care Act,'" Roy writes.

Reason magazine's Peter Suderman writes that the 11.4 million new-signup number issued by the White House "follows a familiar pattern" from the Obama administration.

"When the news looks good, it comes out quickly and is said to exceed expectations. Thus when it fails to come out, one suspects it does not look quite so good."

Suderman points to an observation made earlier this week by Bloomberg News healthcare reporter Alex Wayne during a question-and-answer session with Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell.

The administration, Wayne tweeted, "still can’t tell us how many people were enrolled in Obamacare at the end of 2014."

Last year, HHS was caught inflating Obamacare signups by including 380,000 dental subscribers, which are supposed to be a separate category.

By doing this, Bloomberg reported at the time, the agency boosted the signup figure over 7 million, prompting a hasty apology from department officials.

HHS admitted that the real number of signups for healthcare plans was 6.7 million through mid-October.

"After touting 8 million initial signups for medical plans, four months later they engaged in a concerted effort to obscure a heavy drop-out rate of perhaps a million or more enrollees by quietly adding in dental plan signups to exchange numbers," House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa said.

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Earlier this week, the White House boasted that "about 11.4 million are signed up for private health coverage through Obamacare's insurance exchanges."
Obamacare, exchanges, private, enroll, uninsured, 11.4 million, 5 million
Thursday, 19 February 2015 06:00 PM
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