The ostensible purpose of Democrats' trillion-dollar-plus healthcare overhaul was to provide "health security" to tens of millions of uninsured Americans while lowering everyone's costs, and allowing people who were satisfied with their existing arrangements to maintain them. They've conspicuously face-planted on the latter two promises, and several new studies now indicate that Obamacare is also failing to achieve its raison detre goal of signing up legions of uninsured Americans for coverage. Via the WSJ:
Early signals suggest the majority of the 2.2 million people who sought to enroll in private insurance through new marketplaces through Dec. 28 were previously covered elsewhere, raising questions about how swiftly this part of the health overhaul will be able to make a significant dent in the number of uninsured. Insurers, brokers and consultants estimate at least two-thirds of those consumers previously bought their own coverage or were enrolled in employer-backed plans. The data, based on surveys of enrollees, are preliminary. But insurers say the tally of newly insured consumers is falling short of their expectations, a worrying trend for an industry looking to the law to expand the ranks of its customers...Only 11% of consumers who bought new coverage under the law were previously uninsured, according to a McKinsey & Co. survey of consumers thought to be eligible for the health-law marketplaces. The result is based on a sampling of 4,563 consumers performed between November and January, of whom 389 had enrolled in new insurance.
So of the "2.2 million" who have selected plans through Obamacare's exchanges, at least two-thirds -- if not upwards of 90 percent -- had been insured prior to the law's passage. Remember, too, that the administration's figures on enrollments are vastly exaggerated on both the exchange and Medicaid fronts, and that Obamacare officials don't know how many of those who've tried to enroll are paid up and covered. Why have so many uninsured Americans eschewed the wonders of the "Affordable" Care Act? Because the law is a misnomer, and the federal website has been a nightmare:
One reason for people declining to purchase plans was affordability, [which was] cited by 52% of those who had shopped for a new plan but not purchased one in McKinsey's most recent sampling, performed in January. Another common problem was technical challenges in buying the plans, which 30% mentioned. Health Markets Inc., an insurance agency that enrolled around 7,500 people in exchange plans, said 65% of its enrollees had prior coverage.
It's just too expensive. Also, Democrats' lofty statistics on the uninsured population were always misleadingly inflated; the idea was to tout as high a number as possible in order to justify the urgency of passing their unaffordable boondoggle. Nevertheless, we've pulled the trigger on this massively expensive experiment, and it's failing to attract the very people it was supposedly designed to help. Elsewhere in Obamacare news, the administration quietly announced an enforcement delay of another Obamacare provision because "they had yet to issue regulations for employers to follow." Obamacare's small business offerings are also lagging far behind enrollment goals, largely due to -- surprise! -- sticker shock:
Enrollment in Obamacare health plans for small businesses is off to a slow start, leaving in doubt whether the U.S. program can attract enough customers to satisfy insurers. Greeted by higher premiums, less generous coverage and more paperwork, small businesses that offer health coverage to employees are choosing to renew existing plans rather than buy them through President Barack Obama’s program. Complicating matters is the government’s failure to complete the online exchange for small businesses; in 36 states, there will be no website offering ready information on the plans until November. The program is supposed to help insure the 31 million people who work at companies with fewer than 50 employees. In Kentucky, just 14 companies signed up for Obamacare’s small business plans as of Jan. 1, while Colorado enrolled 101, and Connecticut 106.
As you kick off your week, be sure to read this New York Times column on the looming doctor shortage, this piece about the worsening strain on emergency rooms (which Obamacare was supposed to alleviate, but will actually exacerbate), and Philip Klein's analysis of the myriad ways in which Obamacare will reduce Americans' access to care in the coming years. I'll leave you with this:
Some in Connecticut trying to sign up for health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act have run into trouble because they have been identified as being incarcerated. The problem is that they aren't in prison, and for some, never have been, according to Kathleen Tallarita, a spokesperson for Access Health CT, the state exchange that administers ACA health care applications in Connecticut. The Federal Data Services Hub is responsible for incorrectly identifying some applicants as being incarcerated, according to Tallarita.
A snarky "oops" just doesn't seem to cut it on this one.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography
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