Last year, the Obama administration announced to much fanfare that it cleared 8 million Obamacare enrollments but later admitted it inflated those figures by 1.3 million.
In the wake of the bogus numbers revelation, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Burwell apologized for the “unacceptable mistake” and held meetings to solicit ideas on how to repair HHS’s tarnished image. Moreover, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner resigned and blamed unbuilt computer systems for the phony numbers scandal.
Now, the White House is at it again, claiming that 11.4 million people have “signed up” for Obamacare. Even if that number were accurate–and it’s not–it would still fall well short of the 13 million target the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected should have enrolled by now. Still, Obama’s latest number represents the number of people it claims have filled out paperwork, not the number who have paid their first month’s premium and activated coverage. The figure also includes individuals who are ineligible but filled out forms anyway–a segment of individuals that numbered in the hundreds of thousands during the last enrollment period. Indeed, even the Huffington Post was forced to concede “the enrollment tally is bound to come down in the coming months.”
As Forbes’ Avik Roy notes, if the prior 84% retention rate holds this time–and assuming HHS is not fudging its numbers again–Obamacare will “end up with 9.5 million enrollees” for 2015. Again, CBO predicted Obamacare would have 13 million by year’s end. What’s more, millions of those individuals are simply the 5 million people who had their insurance plans canceled due to Obamacare and were forced into the health exchanges. Roy calculates that just 5.4 million of those signing up for Obamacare this year are previously uninsured individuals–a far cry from the 11.4 million figure Obama is touting.
Worse for Obamacare is the realization many are coming to that having an insurance card is not the same thing as having real coverage. Case in point: the New York Times’ devastating expose revealing that complex Obamacare plans mask true out-of-pocket costs to individuals, have radically shrunk options and networks, and have left many so frustrated they have stopped seeing doctors altogether.
“The new fees are so confusing and unsupportable that they just avoid seeing doctors,” the Times explained.
The New York Times noted Obamacare is “undermining its signature promise: health care that is accessible and affordable for all” and that “patients were paying more in health care expenses than ever before.”
The purported purpose of the Affordable Care Act was to make insurance more affordable, not less. However, a recent CBS/New York Times poll finds that 46% of Americans are struggling to afford health care–a 10% jump from last year.
Obamacare remains deeply unpopular. According to the RealClearPolitics average of polls, just 39% of Americans support Obama’s signature legislative achievement.