Donald Lambro

To be sure, it's hard to point to anything of substance that he's achieved in his second term, beyond fighting a rear-guard battle in behalf of his unpopular and problem-plagued Affordable Care Act.

Recently he took the time to go into the White House pressroom to boast that 8 million people have signed up for Obamacare, surpassing the administration's earlier target of 7 million.

But growing doubts were raised this week about whether 8 million people have really signed up, as he alleged. The White House hasn't produced definitive data to back up the accuracy of that number.

The question is, how many of those who signed up for coverage have paid their first premium? The New York Times reported Tuesday that several large insurers say "about 80 percent" have paid their initial premiums for the coverage to officially take effect.

Moreover, health insurance officials say the 8 million who signed up included a very large number of duplicate enrollments by people who attempted to enroll numerous times but were stymied by problems with the website, the Times said.

"Insurers have many duplicate enrollments in their system for which they never received any payment," said Mark Pratt, senior vice president of America's Health Insurance Plans.

"It may be a matter of months before insurers know how many people activated their coverage by paying their share of premiums," he said.

There's another big question about Obamacare that's not getting much attention, and that is whether enough younger, healthier people are signing up to make Obama's program financially viable.

Data released last week by the administration said that little more than a quarter of the 8 million who signed up were 18 to 34 years old -- far less than the number of younger, healthier people needed to keep policy premiums from rising.

That percentage is "significantly below the 40 percent level that some analysts consider important for holding down rates by balancing the greater medical spending generated by older enrollees," The Wall Street Journal reported.

If the share of younger enrollees remains about the same in the months to come, this means that Obamacare health insurance rates will climb sharply to pay the bills.

"Insurers right now are setting rates for 2015, and the age data will be a key factor in their decision," the Journal pointed out. "Some insurers say that despite seeing a late surge in younger enrollees, their sign-ups still skewed older overall than they had expected."

If that happens, as many forecasters had predicted, the cost of Obamacare will skyrocket, resulting in the loss of millions of enrollees and the finances to pay for it.

That can result in only two outcomes. Taxpayers will be made to foot the bill, which could surge into the hundreds of billions of dollars, or the entire program will collapse like a house of cards.

The Gallup Poll says that life for many Americans has become painfully difficult, with 47 percent saying they are "struggling" and 4 percent "suffering."

The sad part about this is that a majority of them most likely voted for Barack Obama.


Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.