By Naomi Lopez Bauman -
The president’s public relations machine is at it again. With six weeks remaining until the March 31 deadline to obtain qualified health insurance coverage or face a penalty, the Obama administration is trumpeting the success of the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as ObamaCare, despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary.
Enrollments have been anemic, the website is still plagued with problems, there have been numerous implementation delays and it is possible that there are now more people without insurance as a direct result of the law. Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is celebrating the 3.3 million who have enrolled in a private insurance plan in the ObamaCare exchanges. But this number is misleading.
Instead of reporting on actual plan enrollments, the administration defines “enrollments” as individuals and families who have placed a plan in their shopping cart, but have not necessarily purchased a plan. The distinction is critical. As anyone who has ever shopped online knows, putting something in your shopping cart is not the same as actually purchasing it.
In Illinois, only about 89,000 people had “enrolled” in ObamaCare exchanges through Feb. 1. But that 89,000 estimate would still not tell you the number of people covered. Only the number of people who have actually paid for a plan can tell you who is actually going to be covered.
According to insurers polled by CNNMoney, the actual number of people who have actually paid for their plans is estimated to be anywhere between 12-30 percent lower than the reported “enrolled” number nationally.
Using those estimates in Illinois, actual enrollments through the end of the year in Illinois could be in the 62,000 to 78,000 range. While some of the 185,000 individuals and families in Illinois who had their policies canceled as a direct result of ObamaCare were able to renew their plans for one more year, one is left wondering if ObamaCare actually increased the number of uninsured in the state.
The “young invincibles,” ages 18 to 34, make up just less than one-quarter of the “enrollments.” That is far short of the 38 percent target the administration needs to balance out the older and sicker patients in the insurance risk pool. Because of this, health insurance premiums in the ObamaCare exchanges will likely skyrocket well above this year’s levels.
The young invincible demographic is of particular importance in Illinois, where far more than half of the state’s uninsured population falls within this age group. So far, about 24 percent of the young invincibles make up Illinois enrollments.
There is little doubt that the Obama administration is likely to fall short of its overall goal of enrolling 7 million people by the end of March, as well as the goal of having 38 percent of the ObamaCare-insured pool composed of young invincibles.
The Obama administration has been relentless in claiming that ObamaCare has been a success. If that is the case, one has to wonder why they are not reporting paid enrollments, nor are they reporting the number of previously uninsured. It is time for the administration to come clean on enrollment numbers.
ObamaCare was sold with promises to substantially reduce the number of uninsured. The reality is that ObamaCare may end up throwing even more people into the ranks of the uninsured. It is a costly and damaging scheme for the entire health care system and the nation.
Naomi Lopez Bauman is Director of Health Policy at the Illinois Policy Institute