Obamacare's December Surge Gets It to 26% of Goal

There was a surge in enrollment in December which brought Obamacare back from the brink of abysmal failure to something more like plain-old failure. A spreadsheet suggests enrollment in private plans is now at 26 percent of the goal for the first enrollment period which ends in March.

Wonkblog highlights a graph produced by Charles Gaba which shows that the December deadline was taken seriously by lots of people. As of Christmas Eve, just over 1.8 million people have enrolled in private plans. That works out to 25.9 percent of the roughly 7 million enrollment estimate given by the CBO and embraced by the White House as a goal.

The underlying data (spreadsheet) suggests that most of that enrollment is much stronger in states with their own exchange. Connecticut has surpassed 100 percent of its goal. California is at 35 percent, Minnesota at 44 percent, Vermont at 41 percent. Meanwhile most states on the federal exchange are stuck below 10 percent of their enrollment goal.

Enrollment in Medicaid is much higher than enrollment in private plans. Around 4 million people have been judged eligible for the program so far. However, it’s worth noting that a significant number of these people appear to have been auto-enrolled by the states. In California alone, 600,000 people were moved from a low-income health program to Medi-Cal.

The graph also puts to rest some claims that were made about Obamacare last month. First that there was a claimed “November surge” in enrollment. That looks pretty paltry now. In fact, it’s hard to see that there was any such thing compared to an actual surge this month.

Second, there were claims (also at Wonkblog) that Obamacare was following an enrollment pattern set by Medicare part D. That was never the case and, sure enough, the new graph looks nothing like the enrollment pattern for part D.

Obamacare still has a long way to go to reach its goal. It’s not impossible, not if it keeps up the same pace it set over the last couple weeks. But there’s no guarantee that will happen.

Also, none of this tells us anything about the percentage of young people who enrolled. Will the final surge balance out the enrollment of older people in October and November? It could be several weeks until we have a real picture of what Obamacare looks like halfway through the enrollment period.

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