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Obamacare Number Games: How Many Enrollees, Really?

Not surprisingly, there's more to the raw numbers of Obamacare enrollees than meets the eye.

by
Rich Baehr

Bio

April 18, 2014 - 10:51 pm
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It has been a triumphant month for liberal journalists who have lived and died with the fortunes of the Affordable Care Act since its passage in March 2010. Ezra Klein and Jon Cohen have declared victory, describing an amazing recovery for the program and for President Obama since the dark days of near-total failure among people trying to sign up on the federal exchanges in October and November.

To listen to Obamacare supporters, Kathleen Sebelius leaves her post as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services with her head held high, as her legacy now includes shepherding across the finish line a major expansion of health insurance for low-income, previously uninsured Americans. Howard Dean says the Republicans would be foolish to attack Obamacare in this year’ s campaign, now that the program has achieved so much success

Carl Sagan spoke of “billions and trillions”; now the president and the Obamacare support media can talk of millions and millions newly insured.

But how many millions?

Prior to the opening of the exchanges in October 2013, President Obama claimed that the ability of families to keep children on their health insurance policies through age 26 had already added three million people to the ranks of the insured. This claim appears to be nonsense. Avik Roy — one of the few journalists who has actually been examining the data and drawing his own conclusions rather than regurgitating or looking to justify each of the administration’s assertions — estimates that the actual number of newly covered young people is less than one-third of the number claimed, and perhaps far less.

In fact, the percentage of uninsured Americans aged 18 to 24 has not changed at all from 2008 — prior to the economic collapse — through 2013. And of course, the change in policy did not come free. Roy estimates that family plans now cost $160 to $480 a year more due to the new coverage — and that is for all families, including all those without children who are newly covered. Also, as with all the other “free things” offered on the screening side due to Obamacare, none of it is free as someone else has to pay for them.

The numbers for October 1 through the end of March — and now beyond due to late trickles from the exchanges — suggest 7.5 million people signed up on either the 16 state exchanges or the federal exchange (used by the other 34 states). Medicaid sign-ups, which can continue without any deadline during the current federal fiscal year, were 3.5 million. About half of the states did not participate in the Medicaid expansion, so any new enrollees in Medicaid in these states can not be attributed to Obamacare.

In the years 2010 to 2013 — after the act was passed but before any expansion of the program beyond those at 100% of the poverty level or below — and now, since the expansion, Medicaid enrollees have increased. If the growth in the non-expansion states is considered a proxy for the enrollment growth that would have occurred without Obamacare, then about a quarter of the Medicaid enrollment growth is “natural” and unrelated to Obamacare. That leaves about 2.5 million new Medicaid enrollees, who benefited from  the expansion of the program to include those earning up to 138% of the poverty level.

Given the huge promotional push for Obamacare (some estimate a billion or more in federal, state, and corporate spending to advertise the new enrollment opportunities), it is likely that most of any surge in enrollment for Medicaid attributable to the coverage expansion has already occurred for this year. For point of reference, Medicaid enrollment grew by over 7% annually in the two years which overlapped with the economic recession, a faster growth rate than the recent six-month period which included a large eligibility expansion.

If you are keeping score, we may have 3.5 million total insured by counting young people kept on their parents’ policies and the expansion of Medicaid coverage. The big whale, then, is the enrollment number for the exchanges.

The Obama administration has released a mid-April figure of 7.5 million, though they admit this is not the number of those who have paid a premium (or paid once and continued to pay).

Several insurance companies — the ones actually providing new coverage and collecting premiums — have suggested that a ratio of 80% paid to enrolled is a good estimate so far. That would mean six million paid enrollees.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
The real tab for the cost of this gigantic boondoggle will begin to come into focus when insurance companies start losing money. Much of their budget straining costs will come from having to insure preexisting conditions along with the young refusing to be screwed over by the high premiums forced on them by the ACA - 'affordable' for whom(?) is what i'm hearing from them. When bailout talks start expect the progressives & LIV's among us to begin the clamor for single payer.

The ACA is a bowling pin - set up for failure and all signs head to the single payer system unless we resist with all we have. With a RINO controlled congress I'm not hopeful. It won't take as much time as you might think to get to the bail-out situation. Maybe this year but certainly by next year. Single payer was all but written into the bill - you just can't find a word or phrase pointing to it - you have to 'see the forest' instead of staring at the trees or you miss the point.


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26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Reading comprehension is not a parrot's strong suit.

Let's put away the Pom pom's and the cheerleader short skirt for a second. Given a mountain of lies, phony data, withholding facts and evidence and cooking the books based upon the continuation of that fraud....10 million NEWLY insured people is an outright lie.

Stealing money from people isn't charity. It's a criminal act.

Forcing good and decent families to suffer higher costs for crappy healthcare in order to subsidize corruption isn't a gift to this country.

Hurting 290 million citizens in order to subsidize 10 million is not an honorable trade off. It's an assault.

This does NOT improve the nation, it simply punishes most of it. And THAT is the real goal of radical leftism. Punishment, payback, retribution.

Charity does not come at the tip of a bayonet. Entitlements piled on the backs of the productive class do not create a better living for the recipients, it merely seals them into bondage to the State.

Only a creep would like these outcomes. A pack of lies from the cult leader, parroted on cue by his groupies won't remove the stench. This freedom raping boondoggle is a small c communist scheme. And those who steal freedom should be hanged for treason.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
The math is simple...IF 7.5 million signed up & 5 million were cancelled (& HAD to sign up for O'care in order to have insurance), then the difference is the "net" of newly signed up...or 2.5 million...i.e. a RESOUNDING FAILURE!! The math doesn't lie!!
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (39)
All Comments   (39)
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You don't take a victory lap until you get the checkered flag, and this race is far from over. All of the delays and exceptions that the President unilaterally put into place will be expiring in 2015/2016 and then the true force of the monster will be seen. Quite frankly, I would not like to be the democratic presidential nominee in 2016 trying to explain this mess to what is sure to be a gaggle of unhappy campers.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Dear Mr. Baehr:

Although I may not have understood what you tried to say here, the message seems to be that Obamacare has generated good numbers for democrats mainly by shuffling people and money from one pocket to another. If so, I'm sorry to tell you that you should have looked a bit deeper before taking the bait.

A big part of the medicaid enrollment increase is a result of increased unemployment and/or reduced wages resulting from reduced hours of work. Had the recovery been real, those numbers would be much smaller.

Similarly a big chunk of the youth coverage continuation benefit comes from youth unemployment. If pajamas boy continues to live with mommy and daddy while taking basket weaving at the local community college, he can't pay for his own coverage can he?

These "good numbers", in other words, report the complete failure of all Obama economic policies, including Obamacare, to do anything good for the American people.

They are good for the very rich because the insurance companies surviving the coming shakeout will be those with deep pockets and good political connections. That's because, on net the interposition of government between the insurance company and the service providers moves money and choice from the customer to the insurer and government - in the end services will cost much more, the quality of service will become harder to assess, and the customer will have fewer choices. All good for the people who fund democrats, all bad for America.

Thus the real meaning of these numbers is that stirring the pot moves money, and stirring it enough hides who pays and who benefits.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
If you read this article closely it doesn't sound like there is that much wrong with Obamacare. It is foolish to tell Americans the Democrats are lying. Its true, but it won't win elections. No one thinks any politician tells the truth anyway.

Focusing on the coercive aspects of Obamacare and the huge number of people it will harm and how Obamacare plans to ration medial care is effective.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Philly do you think that the big O's narcissisim will interfere with the election that he cannot attend?
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think the Healthcare.gov website was "sacrificed" on purpose. They know it's hard to look away from a disaster. So while they "pre-occupied" everyone with the website..."look over here, pay no attention to that man behind the curtain"...they were screwing us with less coverage. Now they can say the website is "successfully implemented" & they think we are stupid to hear, see & believe that because the word "success " means O'care is a success. This is how stupid they think we are!!
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Initially, I "typo'd" & I typed "Healthcare.giv";, (healthcare dot GIVE), that DOES seem more truthful!!
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
The number of enrollees is a meaningless and irrelevant distraction.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Hubby likes to call this "a difference without a distinction"!!
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Is not 2015 the real time to see if the individual mandates plus employer mandates will see lost policies?? And it is not clear how many have paid and been given a policy which docs will take. The GOP better deal with ACA as well as the IRS if it takes both houses of Congress. Force the Socialist In Chief to veto or sign for the ...2016 election.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
My policy was cancelled & I wound up with less that costs more (like all of us who have individual policies). I was covered on 1/1/14 ONLY because I called numerous times (averaging 1 &1/2 hours on hold each time) & wouldn't let up on NV HealthLink (NV's "state health insurance exchange"). After hearing all the stories about employees that could be felons & lost payments, I go to the bank each month & get a money order (I'm NOT paying with a credit card online OR sending them a personal check with my back account info. on it!!) Then, to make SURE it isn't lost, I snail mail it Certified Mail with a Return Request Receipt & that adds another $6.00 to the cost. I am still WAITING on my Return Request Receipt for my January payment, although I have received the others. Apparently, they hired people who are either too stupid to know they are obligated to sign & return this form...or they LOST it !!
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Has the backend payment system ever been built?
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think that's what the "brainiacs" from Google & other Silicon Valley Companies volunteered to do & got it done.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Reference point?
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
I read this a few places some months ago, but now I can only find it on The Daily Caller on Halloween. It was Google & Oracle employees.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
I remember they called in the "brainiacs" but never heard they had any success with it. The government lied their butts off about how many enrollees they had, when there was no way whatsoever to pay for the "insurance". So now I don't trust them, and have never seen anyone report that this element had been attended to.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
The real tab for the cost of this gigantic boondoggle will begin to come into focus when insurance companies start losing money. Much of their budget straining costs will come from having to insure preexisting conditions along with the young refusing to be screwed over by the high premiums forced on them by the ACA - 'affordable' for whom(?) is what i'm hearing from them. When bailout talks start expect the progressives & LIV's among us to begin the clamor for single payer.

The ACA is a bowling pin - set up for failure and all signs head to the single payer system unless we resist with all we have. With a RINO controlled congress I'm not hopeful. It won't take as much time as you might think to get to the bail-out situation. Maybe this year but certainly by next year. Single payer was all but written into the bill - you just can't find a word or phrase pointing to it - you have to 'see the forest' instead of staring at the trees or you miss the point.


(show less)
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
so an administartion that could not answer any questions about the number of enrollees prior to this date, and said that the numbers aren't in the system are now able to give such exact figures, and we are to believe them.

and worse the media which could not get any answers and were lied to are not to sit back and accept these figures.

When do people start asking for and demanding the truth and stop accepting the BS from BO and his cronies.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
The numbers are a lot easier to believe since RAND Corporation and Gallup independently confirmed the ~10M expansion in the ranks of the insured.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well, lookee here! The second largest funding source for the RAND Corporation in the federal government for 2012 was DHS. The federal government gave RAND 72 percent of its funding.

http://www.rand.org/about/funding.html
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
well done.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thanks!

What's that saying about paying the piper?
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Nice, looks like there's finally a conspiracy brewing. Don't stop there though, we've got to get Gallup in on it somehow. What's our angle?
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
@Ace711. ALL conspiracy theories start with massive lying and deceit by the people in charge . . . "If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor" . . ."premiums will go down by $2,500 per family" . . . Sebelius' bold-faced lying in Congressional testimony . . . Jay Carney's "enrollment data isn't available" . . . So, the best way to head off conspiracy theories is to TELL THE TRUTH--something this administration, and it's supporters in the media, are seemingly incapable of doing.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
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