Oh My: Just 51,000 Americans Have Enrolled in Federal Obamacare Exchanges?

Posted: Oct 11, 2013 10:22 AM

Remember, the Obama administration has been pretending that they don't have this data, which nobody believes. They've been sitting on it because it's super-embarrassing and underscores the magnitude of their failure and incompetence. Sadly for Sebelius & Co., the media has these things called "sources," and the UK Daily Mail gives the world its first glimpse of Obamacare's trainwreck-by-the-numbers. Wow:

Just 51,000 people completed Obamacare applications during the first week the Healthcare.gov website was online, according to two sources inside the Department of Health and Human Services who gave MailOnline an exclusive look at the earliest enrollment numbers. The career civil servants, who process data inside the agency, confirmed independently that just 6,200 Americans applied for health insurance through the problem-plagued website on October 1, the day it first opened to the public. Neither HHS nor the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services would comment on the record about the numbers. Enroll America, the president's organization of health care 'navigators' who are charged with helping Americans sign up, didn't reply to a request for information about its level of success so far. The White House also did not respond to emails seeking comment. But several administration officials have claimed this month that they didn't have access to the kinds of raw figures MailOnline obtained from the people who work for them. And the anemic totals suggest a far lower level of interest in coverage through the Affordable Care Act than the Obama administration has hoped to see.

A devastating paragraph. First of all 51,000 people out of the entire combined populations of 36 states is microscopic. It's a rounding error. It's as if a sold-out Yankee Stadium signed up -- and nobody else. In a nation of 300 million. Questions: Of the lucky 51,000, how many aren't actually signed up, thanks to another related snag? And how many are duplicates? The British paper also smacks down the White House's obvious lie that they aren't aware of these numbers. The figures were provided to the press by people who report to the very officials who say they don't have access to them. At the state level, potential enrollees' experiences have varied, though not even the uber-prepared state of Maryland has met with much success. In Iowa, home to a hybrid state/federal exchange, five people have signed up. In Hawaii, which runs its own exchange, zero people have obtained coverage. The Mail article suggests that public interest in Obamacare is unsustainably low, given the enrollment levels required to keep the program afloat. I think that's a premature conclusion. How many people have tried to sign on and failed due to all the glitches and crashes? Interest among the uninsured will likely remain relatively high, although this survey must be worrisome to Obamacare administrators. The problem will be when younger, healthier people are finally able to log on, only to discover the bad news that awaits their bank accounts if they decide to enroll. Here's one story that typifies the next shoe to drop, via Jim Geraghty:

I finally got in yesterday after more than 100 unsuccessful attempts dating back to Oct. 1. Our local navigator said I was one of only two people they know of who were able to access the site in a 20+ county area...I’m in Texas. As a 50 year old non-smoker, I have (or did yesterday) 46 plan options from three insurers. I’m not eligible for catastrophic coverage since I’m over 30 and not indigent. And there were no platinum plans offered to me. The bronze, silver and gold plans ranged from $202 a month to $586 a month. I searched just for myself, not family coverage. The story going forward is going to be that the low-cost plans are garbage. Plan after plan had $5,000 and $6,000 deductibles before they pay a penny in benefits, and even then you’d still be on the hook for 40% of your bill. Once you get to the $350/$400 a month range, there are a few plans with $1,500 and $2,000 deductibles. One silver plan (I think in the $450 a month range) had zero deductible, but sky-high copays and all kinds of limitations...The deductibles on the low-cost plans are the real scandal here...There are going to be far more working poor and middle class people who still have to scrape together a decent premium after the subsidies, pay it faithfully, then get sick and go to the doctor, only to find out their policy doesn’t cover anything until they’ve paid a $5,000 deductible. I predict a LOT of dissatisfied lower income premium payers.

So in addition to documented premium shock, Americans will experience access shock, and "out-of-pocket" shock -- to say nothing of dropped coverage and doctors. That day of reckoning may not come for "months," however, as major website failures persist. I'll leave you with this headline from NBC News:

"What's next....carrier pigeons? Health care helpers turn to paper, phones."

Yep, the websites are so bad, techies are debating whether Obamacare represents the biggest online face-plant ever. You know what sounds reasonable right about now? A one-year delay of the whole mess.

UPDATE - C'mon, man.

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