J. D. Heyes
November 13, 2013
More than six weeks after the official rollout of Obamacare, far fewer Americans have signed up for health insurance under a state or federal exchange created by the law than have been kicked off their private plans because of the law’s mandated coverage requirements.
So far, according to Avik Roy at Forbes, the number of Americans who had been purchasing their own health coverage and who have now have received cancellation notices from their insurers is around 4.8 million, but many more are coming.
Nevertheless, The Wall Street Journal reports, a fraction of the American public has successfully signed up for care under an exchange. The paper reported that only “40,000 to 50,000” have signed up using the federal (Healthcare.gov) exchange, while only an additional 49,000 have done so in 12 of the 14 existing state exchanges.
This won’t bode well for Obamacare’s survival; the administration was counting on millions of enrollees, especially young, healthy enrollees, because they are needed to finance care for the unhealthy and chronically ill.
500,000 by Oct. 31?
Last month, the Associated Press published details of an internal Obama administration memo, dated September 5, detailing the White House’s monthly targets as to how many people would sign up for private insurance under Obamacare’s exchanges. “We expect enrollment in the initial months to be low,” said the September 5 memo. Through October, the administration estimated that 494,620 would sign up. They only got about a fifth of the way toward that lowball estimate.
The AP story noted that the government set a target amount of 500,000 sign-ups by Oct. 31.
It’s not even been close.
“So far, private health plans have received enrollment data for 40,000 to 50,000 users of the federal marketplace,” write Christopher Weaver, Timothy Martin and Louise Radnofsky in the Journal. “Separately, 12 of the 14 states that are running their own exchanges have tallied roughly 49,000 enrollees.”
And the thing is, the federal government’s enrollment data may even be exaggerated. “The number represents enrollment date sent to insurers from the marketplace” but counts “data sent to insurers from the marketplace,” the trio wrote.
Roy notes that one federal official told Amy Goldstein and Sarah Kliff at the Washington Post that “the official figure will include people who have paid for a plan and those who simply picked a plan and put it in their shopping cart.”
That doesn’t happen in the real work of private enterprise, however. Roy notes that most private firms aren’t allowed to count as “sales” people who only put items in electronic shopping carts but have not yet paid for them.
“But politics triumphs [over] economics,” he writes.
Goldstein and Kliff further note that, “according to one person with knowledge of the figures, slightly fewer than 40,000 people had selected a [federal exchange-based] health plan as of last week.”
Fewer numbers mean higher costs for those who enroll
One of the least-discussed aspects of Obamacare is that its success depends on the very free-market principles that have sustained the private health insurance industry since its founding – the same principles that Obama and his allies purport to hate. Quite simply, to stay afloat, the system needs many more non-users than users.
Users mean expenses, and that’s why health insurance companies in the past have either refused to cover people with pre-existing conditions or have agreed to cover them but have charged more for their policies.
Were they “greedy?” Of course not.
As much as the utopian masterminds in the Obama regime want you to believe that healthcare should be “free,” it isn’t “free” – like almost everything else of value.
Regarding coverage under Obamacare specifically, the reason why premiums are going up for most people in dramatic fashion is twofold – to help finance the promised subsidies, and to compensate for the cost of taking care of people who have chronic diseases and others, like older Americans, who will use the healthcare system more often.
But the system needs enrollees to survive, and right now, it isn’t getting them. That will only increase premiums further.
This article was posted: Wednesday, November 13, 2013 at 5:57 am