No wonder the Administration has been tap dancing about results of the Obamacare launch. The Wall Street Journal reports that fewer than 50,000 people have enrolled in Obamacare through the Federal website to date. Mind you, this is a full six weeks after the launch date, so enrollments have averaged under 10,000 per week. This contrasts with the Administration’s estimate of 500,000 enrollments for the month of October (the assumption was that most people would put off making a commitment until closer to the deadline). Recall that the enrollment target is 7 million, and the enrollment period has been extended till March 31.
By contrast, the 14 states that have their own sites are having a bit more success, with 49,000 enrollees among them, according to Avalere, a consulting firm. The Administration is trying cheerily to say that late-in-the-game signups are normal. But even so, only 1/10th of the target population has created accounts (the figure bruited about is 750,000) and reports to date suggest that that may well include duplicate accounts.
And of course, the difficult of enrolling is producing adverse selection: for the most part, only highly motivated people, as in those who have high medical costs, are anxious enough to keep pushing with the site so difficult to use.
More details from the Journal:
In some states, such as California, customers have been able to fill out applications and select plans, but insurers haven’t received any of the enrollment data. Officials overseeing California’s exchange promised to begin transmitting enrollment data this month…..
Democrats acknowledge that the window is closing to fix the website and smooth out the enrollment process. Jeffrey Zients, who was named by President Obama late last month to lead the effort, has said the site would be repaired for “most users” by Nov. 30….
The tight timeline has health insurers worried. Already, insurers have said their incoming enrollees in the federal exchange are significantly older than anticipated. Because the law bars insurers from charging unhealthy customers higher rates, insurers must attract young, healthy customers to offset the costs of people who use more health services.
Update: Should have included this in the initial post. Compare this report with key points from Lambert’s post earlier today:
It’s actually OK that the numbers are low in absolute terms; the MA enrollment for RomneyCare was initially low, and built to the final deadline. There are two metrics that matter: First, the order of magnitude of the enrollees compared to projections. 494,620 vs 49,462 is just barely passing; 494,620 vs. 4,946 would be very bad or, in Washington parlance, a “concern”; and even I don’t think there will be 494 enrollees. Second, the actuarial soundness of the pool; if the entire pool has a pre-existing condition, the insurance companies can’t profit.
The total falls below Lambert’s “barely passing” since this figure includes November to date, while Lambert was anticipating the official report for HHS, which will cover October only (not only does November to date mean an additional 10, or 30% or so days, but enrollments are supposed to accelerate over time. So his 49,462 for October should be at least 30%, or more like 40% higher to be a true apples to apples. That would mean solidly over 65,000.
And the fear, that the enrollees are skewing heavily towards the unhealthy, appears to be being borne out. So this program is becoming the worst of all worlds: ordinary Americans are begin screwed through higher costs (r paying penalties) as insurers game the program, yet ironically, the insurers are still not coming out as well as they had hoped. If that is still true as of the close of enrollment, they’ll simply put through rate increases next year.
There is not amount of PR lipstick that Obama can successfully apply to this pig.