HHS announced Friday morning that Obamacare had reached a new “milestone” of 3 million enrolled in private insurance plans through federal and state exchanges.
The brief statement by Marilyn Tavenner describes the new figures as “the most recent data” but does not specify when this milestone was reached. Philip Klein of the Examiner asked HHS directly and was told they had crossed the line “this week” but that an exact date wasn’t available.
So here is what the numbers tell us about the pace of enrollment: It has slowed from December but probably about as much as HHS anticipated it would. As of December 28th total enrollment was at 2.15 million. Nearly all of that, about 1.8 million, took place in December because the website wasn’t working in October and November.
The new total means that since December 28th enrollment is up about 850,000. If we assume the three million milestone happened mid-week then the total at the end of January should be in the neighborhood of 1.1 million. That’s including 3 days which are properly part of December (29-31).
What are we to make of this? On the one hand, the pace of enrollment is definitely down from December. If the 1.1 million figure is correct then enrollment is off more than 35 percent compared to last month. That’s in keeping with what seemed to be happening in states that reported their own numbers mid-month.
However, it’s important to note that HHS had always predicted a decline in January after the first big deadline in December. Specifically, they expected to see about 1.1 million enroll in December which is about half of what they expected for December. What this means is that the administration will likely claim January met or exceeded expectations even though they are still behind overall.