You know the drill by now. The Obama administration releases an enrollment figure, the media credulously repeats it, then we bring you the facts. It's becoming something of a ritual around these parts. Let's begin with the spin. Get excited about these inflated numbers, America:
Obamacare enrollment hits 5 million http://t.co/A61bMGdvvL— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlakeWP) March 17, 2014
End of Feb.: 4.2M Obamacare enrollees. Today: 5M Obamacare enrollees. Needed b/t now and 3/31: 1M Obamacare sign-ups to hit CBO projection— Sarah Kliff (@sarahkliff) March 17, 2014
Back in reality, the generally-accepted estimate of the nationwide non-payment rate is 20 percent -- meaning that one-fifth of the "newly enrollment" are not, in fact, enrolled. The administration "counts" anyone who's placed an Obamacare exchange plan in their virtual shopping cart as signed up. Kathleen Sebelius again testified last week that HHS is not keeping track of who checks out and pays their first month's premium, which are necessary steps to becoming fully enrolled. (I've included that video below). As of a few weeks ago, payment delinquency rates were close to 50 percent in certain states. Nearly half of the few previously-uninsured Americans who have selected plans through Obamacare are not paid up. Also, the overwhelming majority of these "new" enrollees are not obtaining coverage for the first time. Most had insurance prior to Obamacare. According to estimate, fewer than 30 percent of those signing up are first-time enrollees. Two independent studies revealed that roughly 90 percent of eligible consumers who were uninsured before the law's implementation have chosen not to purchase plans on Obamacare's exchanges. The top reason cited was lack of affordability. Here's my back-of-the envelope math about the real progress
WIth 20% nonpayment rate, actual enrollment # is ~4 million -- 57% of the administration's 2013/2014 goal, w/ 2 weeks to go. #Math— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) March 17, 2014
That's based on the White House's original target of seven million, which they've since tried to pretend never happened. If you take these calculations a step further by only tallying enrollments of (a) newly-insured people who (b) have activated their coverage by paying, the accurate "new enrollment" number sits just north of one million. And that's using the relatively generous 20 percent nonpayment rate assumption. Remember, according to the McKinsey study, the delinquency percentage among this group is more than double the broader national one-fifth figure. I'll leave you with Kathleen Sebelius testifying once again that she and her merry band of Obamacare administrators have no idea how many people are actually fully enrolled, or how many of them had coverage before this $2 trillion program took effect:
Phil Klein makes a number of similar points, noting that enrollment has accelerated in March, compared to February's deceleration.