The Conversation

Obamacare Enrolls 4 Million (with an asterisk)

Four million people have now enrolled in private health plans under Obamacare according to President Obama. There is still an asterisk on that number as it includes hundreds of thousands of people who insurers report did not pay a premium by January deadlines.

Though the official numbers released by administration figures do not reflect it, there is now widespread agreement that a significant percentage of those "enrolled" did not pay their first month's premiums. The percentage is estimated to be around 20 percent.

Earlier this month HHS published a summary which stated that, as of Feb. 1st, enrollment was at 3.3 million. That meant that for the first time Obamacare enrollment had beat a monthly estimate (by about 100,000). This fact was trumpeted as a sign of success by National Journal which said Obamacare was "back on track." The Washington Post also highlighted the fact that the program had beat a projection for the first time.

The newly announced figure suggests that the pace of enrollment has slowed slightly since last month. With only a few days left in the month, February enrollment so far is only at 700,000. If you adjust for the few remaining days it looks as if February enrollment could stall out around 850,000.

The slowing pace is significant because the same projections Obamacare beat in January predicted enrollment would be even higher in February. Specifically, enrollment this month was projected to be 1.27 million. At the moment that seems well out of reach.


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