White House Chief Technology Officer: Having an Item in Your Shopping Cart is Not a Sale

Todd Park is the Chief Technology Officer for the White House. Wednesday he testified before the House Oversight Committee about problems with the Healthcare.gov website.

During testimony Rep. Jason Chaffetz asked Park if he had ever used Amazon.com. Park replied that he had. Chaffetz then asked “When you put something in your shopping cart, is that considered a sale?” Park paused a moment then replied “No.”

This is significant is because the Obama administration has announced that it will release enrollment data for the federal exchange this week using a metric that counts anyone who selected a plan as enrolled.

Insurance companies do not consider a person enrolled in a health insurance plan until they have paid their first premium. But the Obama administration will count anyone who has a plan in the Healthcare.gov equivalent of their shopping cart as a sale, whether or not they have completed the transaction.

There is a difference between Amazon and Healthcare.gov. The former has a shopping cart that can hold numerous items while the latter only allows you to select one.

Nevertheless, some portion of the people who selected a plan may not complete enrollment. Perhaps they changed their minds or simply decided to wait until the deadline to pay. In either case, they are not enrolled by virtue of selecting a plan online. Unless money has changed hands they are not covered by insurance.