Obamacare Enrollment Falls Short of Projections, Medicare Part D

The American Action Forum has put together a helpful chart which compares Obamacare enrollment to the goal set by HHS. Not surprisingly, it reveals that Obamacare has a lot of ground to make up.

Tuesday I pointed out that Medicare part D, which like Obamacare had a glitch plagued website and a six month enrollment period, signed up 3.6 million people in its first two months. The AAF chart also includes a trajectory for part D sign ups for comparison.

The dashed green line represents the HHS enrollment goals. These figures are based on a memo reported by the AP at the end of October. Note the initial slope is lower. The memo itself said “We expect enrollment in the initial months to be low.”

Now compare that to the solid yellow line which is actual enrollments (or at least potential enrollments assuming people pay their premiums). Obviously, things are going much worse than anticipated.

One of the claims advanced this week by Ezra Klein is that Obamacare is following the trajectory of previous programs like Medicare part D. Monday, Klein wrote “with these kinds of laws…enrollment begins as a trickle andspikes at the end.” But is that accurate?

In the graph above the enrollment path of Medicare part D’s stand-alone prescription program is represented by the dashed red line. What AAF has done is take each month’s part D enrollment figures as a percentage of the total enrollment in the program and then graph those as a percentage of the Obamacare goal. So for instance, 100 percent enrollment for part D was about 9 million. That now becomes the equivalent 7 million, i.e. 100 percent of the Obamacare goal, in this graph. What this shows then is a trajectory of how enrollment in part D grew over time, not exact enrollment numbers (which were slightly higher).

Enrollment in part D was fairly steady from the start and much stronger than either the projected or actual enrollment in Obamacare. If there’s a reason Medicare part D succeeded despite it’s initial problems this graph shows why. So far, Obamacare is not following the same trajectory.