ObamaCare enrollment deflates due to invalid data, cancellations
I predicted all along that the true ObamaCare enrollment numbers would be nowhere near what the President claimed during his April victory lap, but the truth would be kept hidden from the American people until it could be dismissed as “old news.” With the world crashing down in flames around Obama’s foreign policy, this might be a good time for the truth about his great domestic policy disaster to leak out. Investor’s Business Daily hears some discouraging words from Aetna:
The nation’s third-largest health insurer had 720,000 people sign up for exchange coverage as of May 20, a spokesman confirmed to IBD. At the end of June, it had fewer than 600,000 paying customers. Aetna expects that to fall to “just over 500,000″ by the end of the year.
That would leave Aetna’s paid enrollment down as much as 30% from that May sign-up tally.
“I think we will see some attrition … We’re already seeing it. And we expect that to continue through the end of the year,” CEO Mark Bertolini said in a July 29 conference call.
It’s not clear how representative Aetna’s experience is of broader exchange trends, or whether its projection may be too conservative. (If it were representative, a similar 30% decline would drop ObamaCare enrollment to 6 million or less.)
Other insurers and state exchanges also reported significant levels of “attrition,” which would explain why the munchkins in charge of ObamaCare stopped issuing regular updates on enrollment figures a while ago. They didn’t want anyone to notice the numbers were going down.
The gap between the high watermark of sign-ups and the number of current premium-paying customers reflects both those who never sent in a first payment and those who stopped paying for any number of reasons. For some, finances may have been too stretched. Some may have gotten fed up with high deductibles, and others could have switched plans so they wouldn’t have to switch doctors. Still others may have found a job that came with health benefits, or others lost income and qualified for Medicaid.
ProPublica reported that HealthCare.gov has seen more than 1 million transactions since the extended open-enrollment period, though it’s not clear how many represent new customers as opposed to people reporting a change in income, for example.
People who have major life changes, such as losing employer coverage, can still get insurance outside of open enrollment.
“A big question is whether new members will offset attrition,” wrote ProPublica’s Charles Ornstein.
The incoming evidence suggests that attrition is winning.
Besides the non-payment issue IBD mentioned, there’s also the problem of applications that were invalid to begin with. The Florida Times-Union has a story about how 100,000 Affordable Care Act enrollments in the Sunshine State stand on the verge of cancellation on September 5… because the applicants haven’t submitted proof of citizenship or immigration documents yet.
Federal health officials sent out letters in English and Spanish to consumers Tuesday warning there was an inconsistency between what they wrote on their health insurance application and the immigration and citizenship information that the feds have on record. Officials will reach out to consumers two more times by phone and once via email before the deadline. The documents must be submitted by Sept. 5 or coverage will end Sept. 30.
Many consumers have already been contacted five to seven times, but still haven’t responded, senior health officials said on a conference call Tuesday.
When you call someone seven times to ask for basic citizenship paperwork to confirm their purchase of heavily-subsidized health insurance, and they still haven’t called you back, I think it’s safe to conclude They’re Just Not That Into You.
Of the 8 million people around the country who signed up for private coverage through President Barack Obama’s law, more than 2 million at one point had discrepancies of one sort or another that could have affected their eligibility. That number has been greatly reduced — but the remaining cases are proving difficult to untangle.
Nearly 1 million U.S. consumers have immigration-related inconsistencies with their applications. The feds have closed 450,000 cases and another 210,000 are in progress. But 310,000 consumers haven’t submitted any documents, including 93,800 in Florida.
Florida has the highest number, followed by Texas with 52,700, according to data from federal health officials.
The issue highlights concerns from the law’s opponents who warned that fraudsters would find a way to game the system the same way they’ve infiltrated the Medicare and Medicaid programs.
The inconsistencies addressed Tuesday only apply to immigration issues. Problems with income verification will be handled later.
Well, that gives us something to look forward to, doesn’t it? The mad dash to shovel people into ObamaCare by April 1, and head off a round of devastating headlines about missed enrollment targets, left the bureaucracy with a huge mess to clean up. The immigration issue described by the Florida Times-Union is peanuts compared to the horrific mess coming our way when annual incomes are verified, and a fair number of ObamaCare subsidies are invalidated, which will leave middle-class enrollees on the hook for extra payments… and taxpayers getting soaked, but good, to cover the unrecoverable invalid subsidies given to low-income applicants. Also, at that point the IRS will be involved, and that makes everything more fun.
Now, how much “attrition” do you suppose ObamaCare will suffer if the Supreme Court upholds the rule of law and strikes down subsidies for every customer in the 36 states that decided to rely on the federal exchange system?