About those Obamacare enrollment numbers

John Hayward of Human Events looks behind the curtain and sees the Wizard of Oz isn’t so impressive.

No serious analyst believes the ObamaCare “signup” totals pushed by the White House are accurate. The media makes a pretense of relaying these numbers as though they were valid data, when every single reporter knows they are not. In this way, talking-point energy is generated; there’s lots of chatter about 7 million “signups” on April 1, or 8 million today, or whatever figure the Administration is pushing out, but the caveats are muttered in a very low voice… usually as a single sentence about how the Administration refuses to release the total of paid and valid ObamaCare policies sold, or their demographic breakdown. Video news reports frequently forget to mention these qualifications at all. Print reporters usually claim the total of paid policies is “unknown,” even though everyone knows the Department of Health and Human Services has the number. If it was good news, they would of course release it immediately.

Thanks to work by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, we have a better idea of why the Most Transparent Administration in History is guarding those figures as closely as Barack Obama’s activities on the night of September 11, 2012. Previous estimates from the insurance industry held that 20 to 25 percent of the reported ObamaCare signups were unpaid and invalid, but the actual numbers from the federal exchange system turn out to be considerably worse:

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. …

… Is the shockingly low federal payment rate a result of system errors, or is it because many of the enrollees simply didn’t send in their first premium payment? (Is there actually some number of them who don’t think they have to pay, because ObamaCare is supposed to be “free?”) It seems unlikely that the state payment rates will be good enough to drag the overall total anywhere near 80 percent overall.

As for the “surge” enrollments, I would think it likely they have a worse percentage of follow-through payments, both deliberately and as a result of glitches in the over-stressed system. The people sliding in under the wire, right before the illegally rewritten deadlines expired, by definition were not as serious about obtaining coverage as people who signed up early and paid as quickly as possible.

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