To spin, or not to spin: that is the question when it comes to the number of people enrolling in Obamacare. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is boasting that there was a “surge” in the number of enrollees in November and that this bodes well for Obamacare. HHS spokeswoman Joanne Peters emailed thehill.com on Monday:
We’re in the process of scrubbing final data and expect to report November numbers in mid-December. But we expect that enrollment will increase with the technical improvements we’ve made, enrollment taking place across our customer service channels, and the surge in enrollment that many states who are running their own Marketplaces have reported. It’s important to remember we are just two months into a six-month open enrollment period that we expect will ramp up over time as we’ve seen in other implementation efforts, such as Massachusetts and Medicare Part D.
On the same day, Bloomberg reported that HHS will say 100,000 people picked plans using the federal exchanges in November, compared to 27,000 that signed up in October.
The Hill reported the success of Obamacare in California, stating, ” . . . the push to enroll the uninsured has made the state a model of success that the feds and other states hope can be replicated.” Covered California said that almost 50,000 people had selected a health plan using ObamaCare during the first 19 days of November, after 31,000 did so in October.
But here’s the news without the spin: The HHS is including people who have enrolled and picked a plan but haven’t made a premium payment yet. And even more importantly, in California, which is touted as a great success and has similar figures to New York and Connecticut, in October, 34% of total enrollment was made up of people aged 55-64, and 22% of enrollees were from the age group 45-54. While 56% of California’s total exchange enrollment was aged 45-64, they only comprise 25% of the populace. Most of the people signing up are older.
Meanwhile, only 28% of those enrolled were under the age of 34; that age group is 49% of the total California population. When young people see they are funding the health insurance of the older age group, they may well opt out of the process.