HHS reported Wednesday that 1.2 million Americans have enrolled in ObamaCare since the exchanges opened on October 1st. The media is trumpeting this as a sign the website is improving and ObamaCare is making steady progress towards its goals. A deeper look at the numbers, however, reveals a more troubling trend. Of the total enrollees, over 800,000 have signed up for Medicaid. Just over 360,000 have enrolled in private insurance plans, just 30% of the total.
Medicaid was supposed to be a small part of ObamaCare’s drive to universal coverage. Expanding an already struggling and unsustainable entitlement program may end up being the law’s only “legacy.”
Earlier this year, HHS had estimated that 3.3 million people would enroll in private insurance by the end of this year. It also predicted that 7 million would sign-up by the end of the enrollment period in March 2014. It seems unlikely it will meet those goals. A further complication is the fact that up to 25% of the current enrollments have errors in their applications. Some number of the people being touted by the Administration as success stories will greet the new year without insurance coverage.
Considering the fact that over 5 million people are losing their insurance, if this enrollment trend continues, fewer people will have insurance next year than before ObamaCare took effect.
There is a deeper worry that is still unknown. We have no demographic information about the 300k people who have enrolled. ObamaCare only “works” if millions of young, healthy people enroll in insurance. Their premiums are needed to offset coverage for old and sick enrollees. When HHS estimated 7 million enrollees in the first year, it said that just over 2 million of these would by young people.
Given the difficulties enrolling over the past two months, it is likely that a significant percentage of the 300k are those most in need of insurance. The group is likely to be more unhealthy and older than the general population. If there aren’t enough young people who the pool who aren’t consuming health care, premiums for the rest of the population will skyrocket next year.
And, of course, another few million people, those who obtained coverage earlier this year in the private market, will lose their coverage after next year.
This is a feature of ObamaCare, not a bug. With millions unable to obtain or afford coverage, Democrats will claim that the private insurance market has “failed” and begin agitating for a single-payer government system. In the end, that was always the long-term goal.