The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in an attempt to boast of the success of Obamacare, bragged Tuesday that more than two million people had enrolled in private health insurance plans under Obamacare by the end of 2013.
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius swaggered, “Tomorrow is New Year’s Day and is a new day in health care for millions of Americans. For many of the newly insured, it will be the first time that they can enjoy the security that comes with health coverage.”
There are some problems with the HHS posturing:
- The Obama Administration had pegged 3.3 million enrollees as its target by the end of 2013, and as with most estimates, that was thought low enough to ensure success. However, it still wasn’t reached.
- The deadline to pay first premiums for those who wanted January coverage is Jan. 10, but Sebelius could not say how many of the 2.1 million that have enrolled have actually paid their premiums.
- There’s no telling how many of the new enrollees had their previous individual health care policies canceled because they didn’t meet the standards imposed by Obamacare. So, with the approximately four million people who lost health coverage due to cancellation, that’s a possible net loss of two million insured.
- The surge in enrollees was likely due to the December 24 deadline. The next important deadline is March 31, when open enrollment ends and those who don’t have health coverage and are not exempt from Obamacare will have to pay a penalty. This means January and February enrollment may very well slow down until there is a surge in March.
- When those who have enrolled in Obamacare visit their doctors’ offices and emergency rooms in January and some don’t yet have their insurance cards, nor have had their enrollment information given to insurance companies, there will be delays. This might well prompt enrollees to be discouraged, thus lowering popular perception of Obamacare.
The Congressional Budget office projected seven million enrollees in Obamacare in 2014. It may be a little early for HHS and Sebelius to start boasting.