We've been casting a jaundiced eye on the Obama administration's so-called "enrollment" totals for weeks, noting that they were counting "selected plans" as completed sign-ups to goose the numbers. In reality, as we've pointed out endlessly, consumers must pay their first month's premium in order for coverage to kick in. We cited expert estimates that approximately 20 percent of "enrollees" were delinquent on payments, and therefore shouldn't be lumped into the official figures. The administration has declined to provide payment delinquency rates, with Kathleen Sebelius repeatedly testifying that she didn't have that sort of data at her disposal. She offered the same answer to questions about how many of the "newly enrolled" lacked prior coverage. The House Energy and Commerce Committee set out to track down those missing statistics -- and what they found is significantly worse than what even many Obamacare critics imagined. Wow:
Data provided to the committee by every insurance provider in the health care law’s Federally Facilitated Marketplace (FFM) shows that, as of April 15, 2014, only 67 percent of individuals and families that had selected a health plan in the federally facilitated marketplace had paid their first month’s premium and therefore completed the enrollment process. Nationwide, only 25 percent of paid enrollees are ages 18 to 34. The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations today invited the leaders of some of the nation’s largest insurance providers and their trade groups to testify at a hearing, “PPACA Enrollment and the Insurance Industry,” on Wednesday, May 7, 2014, at 10:15 a.m. in room 2123 Rayburn House Office Building.
Let's run the rudimentary calculation:
That's a far cry from the White House's much-balleyhooed "eight million!" football spike, and it's 1.7 million people shy of the administration's 2014 target. What's more, only one-fourth of actual enrollees were in the key "young invincibles" demographic, well short of Team Obama's goal of 39 percent. The resulting unbalanced risk pools could lead to significant premium increases in coming years, including 2015. Three different independent analyses have concluded that between 25 and 33 percent of exchange enrollees did not have insurance coverage prior to Obamacare. Using the high end of that range, we're looking at 1.7 previously-uninsured genuine enrollees. These new stats only apply to the federal exchange, which spans 36 states (and counting), meaning that it doesn't account for state marketplaces. Some state-level exchanges have better than average payment rates (California and Connecticut, for example), but others have abysmally bad rates. Unsurprisingly, Obamacare people are once again in damage control mode, disputing the committee's findings:
HHS already disputing insurance data. Easy answer here: HHS releases complete transparent enrollment data.— Rory Cooper (@rorycooper) April 30, 2014
But wait. How can the administration contest figures that they claim not to have themselves? Indeed, Kathleen Sebelius explicitly suggested that Congress reach out directly to insurers for these answers. Skip ahead to (2:45):
"I think these questions would be...in the meantime, insurers have information about their customers."
Congress took her up on that suggestion and contacted every insurer on the federal exchange -- and HHS is mad about it. Perfect. So how's that big "winning streak" looking these days, media cheerleaders? The enrollment totals were bogus and worse than expected, the risk pool mix is less sustainable than hoped, premium increases and more cancellation letters are on the way, major parts of Healthcare.gov still haven't been built, and the behind-schedule revamp will now cost taxpayers at least an additional $121 million. Oh, and health costs just exploded in the first quarter of this year because of Obamacare. A trainwreck.
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