It sure doesn’t look as if any last-minute surge is materializing to bring ObamaCare enrollment anywhere near projected levels. With only a few weeks to go until the March 31 deadline, even the wildly inflated official claims of 3.3 million enrollees are only halfway to the 7 million target number.
And those official claims are, of course, bunkum, just as everything else this Administration says about ObamaCare is a lie that can be revised later, once a few tough news cycles and opinion polls have been survived. A lot of the people in that 3.3 million total, updated this week, haven’t actually made their first payment for insurance, so their plans are not valid. As the Daily Caller notes, Health and Human Service is still lying about their inability to factor those invalid plans out of the totals, and even the inflated numbers are slowing down, not surging towards the deadline:
A total of 1.1 million people selected a plan on the exchanges in January, a decline from the 1.8 million that signed up on state and federal marketplaces in December. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) spokeswoman Julie Bataille was unable to confirm the drop, but noted that the 1.1 million sign-ups just barely beat HHS’s expected January enrollment of 1,059,900 — the first time Obamacare’ s hit an enrollment projection yet.
Though HHS was able to report one piece of good news, the numbers are still suspect. Officials refused to release key details about the numbers, including how many of the 3.3 million enrollees paid their premiums.
Now that the first month of available coverage has passed, any of the signups that failed to send their first premium payment to their insurer are officially out of the system, but HHS refused to provide any details on paid vs. unpaid enrollees and did not adjust their enrollment numbers to reflect any such canceled enrollments from January.
The limited number of state reports available show that payment rates are surprisingly low across the country, especially in high-enrollment states such as California and New York.
This is absurd. Every insurance operation participating in ObamaCare is perfectly capable of reporting, in a matter of hours at most, how many paid and valid policies they have sold through ObamaCare. Even if the central system – which, as we all know, is the greatest disaster of central government planning in the history of the United States – is incapable of producing such a basic report, the numbers could be assembled by hand with spreadsheets, or even calculators, in a few days at most. The Administration knows the horrible truth it refuses to divulge (and has made several promises to divulge it in the past, only to renege every time the question is asked again.)
They’re also refusing to disclose how many young and healthy customers are paying the inflated premiums necessary to keep ObamaCare afloat, or even how many of these policy sales are formerly uninsured people taking advantage of ObamaCare’s primary reason for existence, rather than Big Lie victims who found out the hard way that President Obama’s promise that they could keep their old plans was false. They’re not going to release any data that could threaten to build a media narrative about how the President’s boondoggle is hugely expensive, plunging into a death spiral, and largely ineffective at solving the problem it was created to address.
So we’re left to guess at the true enrollment level. According to the Weekly Standard, industry insiders think the actual number of enrollments is about 20 percent lower nationally than the cooked HHS figures, which would leave the true ObamaCare enrollment somewhere around 2.6 million. (The Standard also has some analysis of the enrollment figures that shows the pace of enrollment has actually been slowing week-by-week over the last reporting period, making projections for the final month of March look even grimmer, unless there’s a truly astonishing last-minute stampede.)
The payment-to-enrollee ratio is even worse in some states, which is important, because the ObamaCare death spiral will play out on a state-by-state basis. The national figures are bad enough, but it will be no consolation to an insolvent, collapsing market in, say, Oregon to know that California enrollments are doing much better. According to a report at Newsmax on Wednesday, in some states only half of the hypothetical enrollees actually have valid coverage:
In Washington state, the exchange had set a goal of signing-up 340,000 participants by the end of next month, but little more than half that number, 170,000, had filled out the Obamacare forms.
But even more devastating for the proponents of the Affordable Care Act is that only 88,071 of those had paid their premium as of Feb. 1st, which is a little more than half the sign-ups, or a little more than 25 percent of the number that Washington had hoped to enlist by March 31 with their premiums paid up.
In Wisconsin, Deputy Insurance Commissioner Dan Schwartzer said only about half of the 40,752 state residents that signed up for health insurance through Obamacare by December 31 have paid their premiums and are currently receiving coverage, according to the ABC TV station WXOW19.
In Nevada, they had hoped to have 115,000 signed up for Obamacare by the March 31 deadline for individuals. But so far it looks like it’s going to fall well-short of that goal with just 14,999 having paid their premiums by Feb. 1, which amounts to 66 percent of those who enrolled.
In Minnesota, Conservative Intelligence Briefing reported that 27,775 households had received private coverage from the MNsure exchange as of January 18. But only 14,500 have paid or have payments pending – a little more than half.
Minnesota, which has a goal of 67,000 sign-ups by March 31, has also been hit by a slow-down in Obamacare enrollments. After having soared by 4,000 a week for five weeks over December and early January, the rate has gone back to the November crawl of just 700 a week.
The Washington Free Beacon pitches in a bit of doom and gloom by noting a big ObamaCare enrollment event in Illinois attracted precisely zero applicants:
Meanwhile, the ObamaCare circus of incompetence rolls merrily along, as this Saturday has been heavily touted as a National Youth Enrollment Day for ObamaCare… but the exchange website will experience a scheduled outage on that day. Organizers were not happy to learn, by surprise, just four days before the event, that they’ll be staring at “system is down for scheduled maintenance” error messages for several hours on Saturday afternoon.
Newsmax mentions concerns that this “spotty payment rate” is a sign that the mix of ObamaCare enrollees is leaning dangerously toward older, sicker, money-losing clients, although further information to support that speculation is not supplied. Is the implication that young, healthy people are less likely to forget about, or ignore, the importance of making the first payment to guarantee coverage? I’ve heard other speculation, some of it from ObamaCare apologists, that the enrollment slump is due to young people erroneously believing that ObamaCare gives them “free health care,” without the need for them to enroll in anything. That’s the justification for all these desperate last minute “education” campaigns.
The deadline to secure insurance for early 2014 has come and gone. A rather modest “surge” of people who couldn’t access the train-wreck ObamaCare system until December scrambled to beat that deadline – essentially a statistical anomaly that followed up two horrifying months with a halfway decent one, instead of giving us the three mediocre months we would have had, if Barack Obama and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius had done their jobs and delivered a working system on launch day. Now we’re back to mediocre enrollment levels, with seven weeks on the clock – and if anything, the pace of enrollment is slowing.
Are millions of people going to slam into the exchange system – which probably still can’t handle that kind of traffic – in the last week or two before the deadline to escape the trans-constitutional individual mandate tax/penalty? Or will recent events make them confident King Barack I will rewrite the law again to delay that mandate, the same way he’s cut special deals for employers? Is he really going to stand firm and dump a crushing tax burden on the Little Guy, when he’s waived those taxes by imperial fiat for Big Business?