California has long been the flagship for Obamacare. It was targeted last fall by President Barack Obama’s own activist group, Organizing for Action, for precisely that reason: given the strength of their volunteer efforts, they hoped the state could be a symbol for the success of Obamacare as a whole.
That is one reason that there is so much loud cheering by the media’s left-wing commentators every time Covered California, the state’s Obamacare program, announces that it has achieved something, no matter how modest–or how exaggerated.
Yet many of Covered California’s “successes” are only relative to the failure of the program as a whole, and most of them are overblown. For example, on the day Obamacare enrollment started, Covered California reported that it had received 5 million web hits. In fact, however, it had received only 645,000–roughly 10% of what was initially reported.
The latest version of such inflation is Covered California’s jubilant announcement last week that “500,108 Californians enrolled for health insurance and selected plans through the end of 2013.”
That was cause for jubilation by Ezra Klein–from the start, one of Obamcare’s chief media pitchmen–and Evan Soltas in the Washington Post, who celebrated California’s achievement of “424,396” enrollments. As John McCormack of the Weekly Standard notes, Klein and Soltas are only counting those eligible for Obamacare subsidies, not the total number who enrolled.
But there is a further problem: California refuses to say, or cannot say, how many of those have actually paid for their insurance, meaning we do not know the actual number.
It gets worse–much worse.
By the end of October, the executive director of California’s Obamacare exchange confirmed that up to 900,000 people in the state would lose their current health insurance by the end of 2013–not including those who may lose it through their workplaces in 2014. Many of those are among the 500,000 or so who signed up for Obamacare through Covered California by the end of 2013–about 330,000, according to McCormack. That also means that only about 200,000 previously uninsured people signed up for Obamacare.
As for the other 600,000 or so, no one know what happened to them–they are just uninsured. The state refused to participate in President Barack Obama’s proposed “fix” for those who had their policies canceled.
So roughly three times as many people have lost insurance as have gained it. That is what the left now defines as “success.” The rest of the country is presumably meant to take heart from the fact that California’s performance highlights the best-case scenario for Obamacare. And there are other problems–a boycott by Calfornia doctors, for one.
Klein and Soltas at least have the presence of mind not to go as far as Covered California and claim 1.2 million people in the state signed up for expanded Medicaid through Obamacare. Half of those were simply transferred into the program by bureaucrats, and the other half signed up for Medi-Cal during the period of Obamacare enrollment, but not necessarily because of it.
Covered California claims its numbers show “continued vigor in the new insurance marketplace.” Much more of such “vigor,” and the state’s insurance industry will be dead.