Thursday, December 12, 2013

ObamaCare enrollments...

ObamaCare enrollments...  I've been trying to figure out, based on publicly released information, just how many people are actually succeeding in obtaining new healthcare insurance through the ObamaCare exchanges.  In particular, I've been wondering whether the number of enrollees exceeds the number of cancellations – because the cancellation numbers are much better known, and they are continuing (through the end of this year for individuals, and through all of next year, for small businesses).

The estimates for total cancellations (assuming the ObamaCare law isn't repealed or changed significantly) varies, but seems to be within a range of 50 to 100 million policies.  That's a lot of policies.  By the end of this year, for individual policies, the number of cancellations seems to be in the range of 5 to 7 million – still a very large number. 

So how many people are enrolling?  Will that be a larger number than the number of cancellations?  In other words, will ObamaCare result in a net gain of the number of people insured, or will it actually reduce the number of insured people?  That's not a facetious question, because at the moment the bulk of the evidence is that at least through 2014, ObamaCare will take more people off the insured list than any other government action ever has.

As always, Megan McArdle has an interesting take on this.  She wonders whether part of the problem is that we didn't actually have as many uninsured people as had previously been estimated.  In other words, the problem isn't that uninsured people aren't signing up – it's that there aren't so many uninsured people!

Pro Publica looks at a different angle.  They're worried that the few enrollment numbers we are getting are grossly overstated – because they don't include the most relevant data of all: how many people are actually paying for the insurance.  That's what closes the deal, after all – but the ObamaCare exchanges aren't saying how many have paid.  It's as if Jeff Bezos reported how many people had things in their shopping carts, instead of how many actually purchased something.

And this morning, The Wall Street Journal piled onto the last point with an editorial that includes this:
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.
Ouch.  Negative net enrollment, exactly what I've been wondering about.  And that's with a “charitable” reading.  Oh, my...

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