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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Juking the ObamaCare Stats -- Review & Outlook, The Wall Street Journal


HHS won't disclose the enrollment data that really matter. 

Most of Washington seems to have bought the White House claim that the 36 federal exchanges are finally working, and glory, glory, hallelujah. But if that's really true, then what explains the ongoing secrecy and evasion? 

On Wednesday the Health and Human Services Department continued its Victorian-era strip tease and allowed a glimpse into the Affordable Care Act's "enrollment" for November. Out of respect for a free press, reporters ought to boycott these releases because they're so selective that they reveal little about real enrollment. But we'll try to parse the data as best we can without the White House high gloss.

A charitable reading suggests that ObamaCare's net enrollment stands at about negative four million. That's the estimated four million to five and a half million people who had their individual health plans liquidated as ObamaCare-noncompliant—offset by the 364,682 who have signed up for a plan on a state or federal exchange and the 803,077 who have been found eligible to receive Medicaid.

HHS is boasting of enrollment for November that was four times as high as October, yet 62% of the total was in the state exchanges, some of which are marginally less prone to crashing than the federal version. Then again, 41 states posted sign-ups only in the three or four figures, including eight states that run their own exchanges. Oregon managed to scrape up 44 people. Among the 137,204 federal sign-ups, no state is reaching the critical mass necessary for stable insurance prices.

The larger problem is that none of these represent true enrollments. HHS is reporting how many people "selected" a plan on the exchange, not how many people have actually enrolled in a plan with an insurance company by paying the first month's premium, which is how the private insurance industry defines enrollment. HHS has made up its own standard.
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