The Corner

WSJ: 50,000 Enrolled in Insurance on Federal Exchange So Far

As of last week, fewer than 50,000 people have signed up for private health insurance on the federal government’s exchange, the Wall Street Journal reports — specifically, health-insurance companies have gotten the health-plan enrollment information for 40–50,000 people. Internal memos cited by Michigan Republican congressman Dave Camp last week had projected 500,000 enrollees on the federal exchange (which serves about 35 states) through October, so obviously the target has been missed by a wide margin. The federal exchange has also presumably led many people to sign up for Medicaid, but we don’t know how many just yet.

This number, by my ballpark calculations, means about 1 percent of the people whom the CBO expected to enroll on the federal exchange have purchased plans so far.

This is worse than the enrollment numbers seen in states that are running their own exchanges, which have supposedly been more successful (some of them do still have to rely on federal resources, such as the federal “data hub” that verifies people’s eligiblity for tax credits), but not much worse. Avalere, a health-care consulting firm, released an estimate today based on publicly available information that about 50,000 people have enrolled in private health-care plans, which amounts to, by their reckoning, 3 percent of the people expected by the CBO to enroll in those states for 2014 (based on the CBO’s national estimate of 7 million). 

Doing some back-of-the-envelope math with Avalere’s model, about 2.5 million of the people the CBO expects to get insurance live in states with state-run exchanges, leaving 4.5 million in the states with the federally run exchange –so about 1 percent of the people who need to enroll have enrolled. This is a really rough estimate, of course, but it is interesting — it’s a poor showing (the Obama administration expected 10 percent of the target enrollees to sign up in this time period, according to the aforementioned documents), but it isn’t much worse than the state exchanges, either.

Sliced another way, working just from the numbers of uninsured people in each state (regardless of income and subsidy eligiblity, etc.), the rate is similar. About 60 percent of uninsured Americans live in states using the federal exchange, so we’d expect about 4.2 million of them to get insurance — again, meaning about 1 percent of the CBO’s projected enrollees have enrolled.

Some context for the numbers is warranted: People don’t need to enroll until mid December for their coverage to begin January 1, and they don’t need to enroll until March 31 to avoid the individual-mandate penalty, so one wouldn’t necessarily expect them to be banging down the door yet. Avalere points out that only 10 percent of eventual enrollees in Medicare Part D did so by the time coverage began (January 1, 2014 being the equivalent date here). And the White House also likes pointing out that enrollment in Massachusetts’s exchanges went even slower, with just 0.3 percent of enrollees in the first month. But there, residents had eleven months to sign up between the debut of the law and the mandate’s deadline; automatic enrollment of some uninsured not counted in the 0.3 percent number also proceeded much more rapidly (the only automatic enrollment for Obamacare involves some states transferring people from state-level insurance programs to Medicaid).

Patrick Brennan — Patrick Brennan is a writer and policy analyst based in Washington, D.C. He was Director of Digital Content for Marco Rubio's presidential campaign, writing op-eds, policy content, and leading the ...

Most Popular

Law & the Courts

Obstruction Confusions

In his Lawfare critique of one of my several columns about the purported obstruction case against President Trump, Gabriel Schoenfeld loses me — as I suspect he will lose others — when he says of himself, “I do not think I am Trump-deranged.” Gabe graciously expresses fondness for me, and the feeling is ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
PC Culture

Kill Chic

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom. We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping ... Read More
Elections

Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More
Law & the Courts

What the Second Amendment Means Today

The horrifying school massacre in Parkland, Fla., has prompted another national debate about guns. Unfortunately, it seems that these conversations are never terribly constructive — they are too often dominated by screeching extremists on both sides of the aisle and armchair pundits who offer sweeping opinions ... Read More
U.S.

Fire the FBI Chief

American government is supposed to look and sound like George Washington. What it actually looks and sounds like is Henry Hill from Goodfellas: bad suit, hand out, intoning the eternal mantra: “F*** you, pay me.” American government mostly works by interposition, standing between us, the free people at ... Read More
Film & TV

Black Panther’s Circle of Hype

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) first infantilizes its audience, then banalizes it, and, finally, controls it through marketing. This commercial strategy, geared toward adolescents of all ages, resembles the Democratic party’s political manipulation of black Americans, targeting that audience through its ... Read More