Today, Forbes did an updated analysis of the current state of Obamacare, as the enrollment numbers are trickling in. The news is rather poor:
“To briefly recap this year’s enrollment figures, late sign ups and automatic renewals pushed the number of people signing up for Obamacare through Healthcare.gov to 8.6 million through the end of 2015, before any attrition. Extrapolating from the current numbers implies that total Obamacare sign-ups will reach about 14 million (once the figures from state-run exchanges are baked in). The White House had previously lowered its 2016 goals, hoping to have 10 million people still enrolled and fully paid at the end of 2016 across the federally run healthcare.gov as well as state-run exchanges. The Obama Administration should hit, or slightly top these estimates, once totals from the state exchanges are factored into the final figures.
For comparison, last year, enrollment topped out at 11.5 million. Around 10 million followed through to purchase plans and 9 million ended up with coverage at year-end, after attrition. Applying the same proportions for this year, Wall Street analysts estimate that about 11 million to 12 million consumers will confirm enrollment by paying for their coverage. About 10 million to 11 million will remain enrolled by year-end 2016. This compares to the government’s revised goal of 10 million, (and an older projection from the Congressional Budget Office for 21 million).
Yet the federal numbers show that the rate of growth in the exchanges has declined year over year, and is mostly comprised of people who were previously covered by some kind of Obamacare plan (71% in 2016). Remember that at the end of the 2015 open enrollment period, the total enrollment across both state-based and the federal healthcare.gov marketplace was up 46% from the 2014 open-enrollment period. That was before any attrition. This year, it looks like the year-over-year growth in the exchanges will come in at about half of that figure.
The age mix of those who are signing up also looks to be tracking, at best, on par with prior years and perhaps a little worse. Remember, Obamacare was always dependent upon more young and presumably healthier consumers signing up for the inefficient plans to help subsidize older and costlier beneficiaries. But many young consumers are choosing to forgo the exchange’s high premiums, even as the government’s penalties for remaining uncovered by a “qualified” plan start to rise. For many of the young, and healthy, Obamacare’s overpriced plans are a bad deal.
Data that HHS released yesterday on the federal and state-based exchanges shows that 35% of total federal and state-based selections were by people younger than 35 thus far for 2016. This compares to 33% during the similar time frame during the 2015 open enrollment period and 29% during the 2014 open enrollment period. For health insurers, the slight improvement in the age mix isn’t expected to be material.
Obamacare’s acolytes are casting the tepid growth as success. Under their calculus, any expansion is a measure of progress. This math largely draws from how one charts achievement–whether it’s drawn from considerations of economics, or derived mostly from politics. If the goal is merely expanding Obamacare’s footprint, then each enrollee adds to the political enterprise. But Obamacare was supposed to be affordable, and self-sustaining. It was supposed to replace the individual and small group markets and the health plans people liked, and couldn’t keep.”
The government is willing to do anything to cast Obamacare in a positive light. But nothing can save it from the fact that the enrollment at this point in 2016 will only be half of what was projected when the legislation was voted on in 2010. If anyone thought that Obamacare would only have covered 10 million persons at this point — instead of the 21 million — there is little doubt that it would not have been passed.
Even today, the Obama voted to veto the bill that would have repealed Obamacare (the Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act of 2015). Unfortunately for millions of Americans, Obamacare has proven to be yet another bungled, failed, government pipe-dream.