Obamacare’s Monthly Check-Up

Dec 11 2013 @ 3:27pm

Enrollments have increased significantly:

enrollment

Kliff provides details:

Just about 1.2 million people have gained health coverage through Obamacare, according to new federal data released Wednesday morning. Approximately 365,000 of those people have purchased private insurance and 803,000 have been determined to be eligible for the public Medicaid program. These numbers count data from both October and November, and show an especially quick growth in HealthCare.gov enrollment.

Philip Klein downplays the enrollment spike. He focuses on individuals buying private plans:

Just 364,682 Americans picked a health insurance plan through President Obama’s health care program between the Oct. 1 launch of the insurance exchanges and Nov. 30, the Department of Health and Human Services announced today. Though the pace of signups accelerated during November, as only 106,185 Americans had picked plans as of Nov. 2, the combined signups were still less than half the administration’s target of 800,000 enrollments by the end of November. Adding a caveat, HHS noted that it is trying to correct a problem that may have resulted in some of the signups being counted twice, thus potentially overstating the number.

Josh Barro puts the numbers in a much more favorable light:

My best guess is that signups for private insurance through the federally-run Affordable Care Act exchanges are rising very sharply: About 69,000 during the week ending Dec. 2, up from only about 2,000 in the program’s first week, ending Oct. 7. That means the signup pace is nearly doubling, week-to-week. Unfortunately, I can’t be sure, because the Department of Health and Human Services, which runs the federal exchange, is awfully cagey about its data.

Drum chimes in:

There was a big jump at the end of November, and continued growth in the Thanksgiving/Black Friday week after that. That said, these numbers still need to grow substantially. At this point in the game, the enrollment rate needs to start pushing 200,000 per week or so on the federal exchange in order to meet the overall enrollment goals set for March of next year. There’s still lots of work ahead.

C.H. at The Economist wants data on who has enrolled:

Perhaps most important is what the new report does not include. It does not reveal what share of shoppers are young. Obamacare relies on enrolment from young, healthy people to subsidise the cost of insuring the sick. The report also merely explains how many people have chosen a plan; it does not describe how many enrolment forms have been successfully sent to insurers. Without this next step, some of the 364,682 people who have chosen a plan may not have insurance in January after all.

Douthat takes a step back:
For myself, as a skeptic of the law, part of what’s been striking about watching Obamacare unfold to date is how it’s managed to go badly relative to its supporters’ projections in ways that I didn’t necessarily anticipate. (I worried more about employer dumping into the exchanges leading to budget-busting subsidy payouts, for instance, which currently seem like a fairly-remote possibility.) Presumably we should continue to expect the unexpected, and be prepared for developments that don’t just fall somewhere in between “ringing success” and “death spiral,” but surprise us with where exactly they fall, and how their consequences play out.