Chicago Tribune: Obamacare’s Troubles Just Beginning

Posted: Dec 20, 2013 7:30 AM

Obviously, regular readers aren't too shocked by the paper’s conclusions. But the op-ed is notable for two reasons: first, the Chicago Tribune endorsed the president in 2008 and 2012; and second, the paper is printed and published in his hometown. Ouch:

You think the Obamacare run-up to Jan. 1 has been a train wreck? Now it gets worse.

You'll soon be hearing more stories of people who thought they'd signed up for coverage, only to find that their paperwork was gobbled by computer gremlins. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services officials said they've whittled down the error rate in enrollment data sent to insurers from an astronomical 1 in 10 to "close to zero."

But insurers say they are still finding errors and the government is overstating improvements to, The New York Times reported. In some cases, for instance, the home address for a new policy holder was outside the insurer's service area. Or a child was listed as the main subscriber — the person on the hook for premiums — with parents listed as dependents. Or people were listed two or three times on an application, which could mean higher premium payments.

What a mess. I imagine this is one of the many reasons why so many people aren't enrolling at all:

One thing is certain: Most states lag behind in their Obamacare sign-up goals. The National Review Online reported this week that 45 states haven't yet hit 10 percent — 10! — of their enrollment goals. In Illinois, a paltry 7,043 people have signed up, hardly a dent in the state's goal of 300,000 by the end of March.

Just as important: Who's signing up? Insurers need droves of young healthy people to pay premiums that offset all the money pouring out to cover older, sicker people. The administration hopes that 4 in 10 new enrollees will be age 18 to 34. Preliminary numbers don't look promising. In some states, a paltry 1 out of 5 new enrollees fall in that age range.

Hence why the First Lady is going around telling Americans it’s a “Christmas treat” to talk about Obamacare during the holidays. As noted above, the Obamas and the bureaucrats overseeing the law’s implementation need the young and healthy to enroll in the exchanges to make it work. The problem? Millennials aren't interested in what the administration is selling:

Many young, healthy people aren't buying the Obamacare pitch, according to a recent Harvard University Institute of Politics poll. Of respondents who were not insured, more than 1 in 4 said they would definitely or probably not enroll. About the same number said they would. The rest were on the fence.

The fate of Obamacare hangs in the balance. And things aren't looking good.

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