Obamacare a success?

It's hard to say this early in the game.
Associated Press
Oct 11, 2013

After more than a week in action, is a key feature of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul a success or a bust? Judging by the dearth of data, it's virtually impossible to say.

The federal government has released no comprehensive data on how many people have enrolled for health insurance using federally run exchanges, the online marketplaces being used in 36 states for residents to compare and buy insurance. In the 14 states running their own exchanges, the situation isn't much better.

Officials with California's exchange say it will be mid-November until they can say how many people signed up. In Oregon and Colorado, the official number of completed applications is zero. And in Minnesota, which billed itself as a leader in implementing the Affordable Care Act, officials won't release data until next week about the number of applications started and completed.

As a result, a nation obsessed with keeping score to determine winners and losers is finding it difficult to pass immediate judgment on a law that will in large part define the president's legacy.

"Obamacare has a lot of cynics in this country, and it needs to get off to a better start than what we see so far if it's going to be a success," said Bob Laszewski, a Washington, D.C.-based health care industry consultant.

Laszewski suspects the lack of data conceals an extremely slow start thanks to widely reported technical problems.

MNsure, Minnesota's online insurance marketplace, reported more than 10,000 accounts had been initiated as of Thursday, said April Todd-Malmlov, the exchange's director. But enrollment figures won't be available until Wednesday. She said some users inadvertently submitted multiple applications that need to be consolidated.

Similar problems abound. Many states running their own exchanges haven't released initial enrollment data, and only a handful are providing a detailed picture of applicants and the plans they are choosing.

Oregon, another state that embraced the law, hasn't even opened enrollment because its software can't determine eligibility for Medicaid or for tax credits that help pay for insurance. Vermont's system is so buggy that officials are issuing paper applications, even though the thinly populated state received $171 million — among the largest amounts in federal grants — to run its exchange and upgrade technology.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which is overseeing the federally run exchanges, doesn't expect to release enrollment data until mid-November. But scattered reports from those states aren't encouraging. For example, Delaware had yet to confirm a single enrollment by Thursday, and many Florida groups designated to help people sign up say they still can't complete the enrollment process online.

The Obama administration has worked feverishly to fix the website delays, frozen screens and other glitches that they attributed to the high level of consumer interest, not software or design issues. But independent experts said it's probably a combination of all those factors, noting that a high volume of users tends to expose software issues undetected by testing.

The federal exchanges, for instance, require users to create accounts before they can browse for insurance plans, adding to website volume. Most e-commerce sites, and several state-run health insurance marketplaces, allow consumers to window shop without an account. An HHS spokeswoman said the agency required consumer accounts so people would know whether they were eligible for subsidies before shopping.

Data is coming from insurance companies in some states, though it largely shows only a trickle of enrollment. Those include Vantage Health Plan, one of four companies offering plans through Louisiana's exchange that reported enrolling 12 people, and CoOportunity Health, which reported five enrollees in Iowa and nine in Nebraska as of mid-week.

"I am very worried that people will lose faith in the system," said John Foley, an attorney helping Florida residents navigate the system. "Clearly we are losing most if not all of the momentum that was built up leading to open enrollment."

One major exception is Kentucky, where 18,351 people had enrolled by Wednesday. Despite relentless criticism from Kentucky Republican Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear has been an enthusiastic adopter of the Affordable Care Act. He believes providing medical coverage can only benefit a state that ranks among the worst in nearly every health measure.

"These people are our friends and neighbors," Beshear said. "They roll the dice and pray they don't get sick."

Kentucky is among the few states that have released information about enrollees, such as their age, family size or employment status. Also largely unknown is what types of coverage are being purchased: lower-end plans with affordable premiums but high deductibles, or more expensive plans with lower deductibles?

A few other state-run exchanges have reported early activity, with the leader being New York, where 40,000 applicants processed by Wednesday. In California, the nation's most populous state, 16,300 applications had been completed by Tuesday — but that was less than in Kentucky, a state with one-tenth the number of uninsured people than California.

But industry insiders say the enrollment system is starting to work more smoothly.

"Going into this, (insurers) were expecting to see some challenges," said Karen Ignagni, head of America's Health Insurance Plans, according to the insurance industry's primary lobbying group. "What people are pleased about is they are seeing progress. ... They would be more worried right now if they were not seeing progress."

___

Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Ricardo Alsonso-Zaldivar and Ben Nuckols in Washington, D.C.; Roger Alford in Frankfort, Ky.; Jonathan J. Cooper in Salem, Ore.; Melinda Deslatte in Baton Rouge, La.; Hannah Dreier in Las Vegas; Susan Haigh in Hartford, Conn.; Kelli Kennedy in Miami; Rachel La Corte in Olympia, Wash.; Steve LeBlanc in Boston; Erika Niedowski in Providence, R.I.; Laura Olson in Sacramento, Calif.; Wilson Ring in Montpelier, Vt.; Michael Virtanen in Albany, N.Y.; Brian Witte in Annapolis, Md.; and Kristen Wyatt in Denver.

 

Comments

Contango

Re: "The federal government has released no comprehensive data on how many people have enrolled for health insurance using federally run exchanges,"

The FACT that the Obama Admin. is not CROWING per usual, speaks volumes about the failure of this poorly written legislative train wreck.

Without the healthy sacrificial youth signing up to help offset the cost of the unhealthy, the Obamacrap Ponzi scheme is DOA.

OSUBuckeye59

Was listening to a reporter on Friday asking an ACA official about how many people had enrolled and the official kept saying, "I'm not going to get into how many people signed up, etc. As promised, we will release numbers in November", so yes, you are 100% correct about how terribly awful the enrollment data must actually be. If folks were enrolling in droves, Obama would be the one crowing about all the wonderfulness of the ACA and using it in his defense of why he wouldn't budget on any GOP demands concerning the ACA.

Per part of the Supreme Court ruling, numerous Southern states are not expanding Medicaid and thus ". . . ~8 million low-income Americans aren’t poor enough to qualify for the existing Medicaid program and make too much to be eligible for subsidies in the ACA’s insurance marketplaces.
As a result, hundreds of thousands of cashiers, cooks, nurses’ aides, waiters and waitresses will still struggle to afford coverage. Republicans argue that expansion would cost their states millions, even though the federal government will pick up nearly all of the costs of coverage (100 percent for the first three years, phasing down to 90 percent in 2020 and all subsequent years), paying nearly 93 percent the cost over the next nine years, according to the Congressional Budget Office."

Even supporters of the ACA agree with the GOP about how the Southern states in question expanding Medicaid would cripple them. And Contango, I seem to remember you posting a link a few times about how future federal government costs are going to skyrocket as a result of them having to fund so much ACA cost.

The Big Dog's back

Out of detox already?

Contango

Did you sign up yet putz?

deertracker

@BD
LMFAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

getit right be4...

Obama's a joke. 37% approval rating. Obama care is a joke.

The Answer Person

You mama liked it.

Gulliver

To learn more about ObamaCare call Serving Our Seniors 419-624-1856 and sign up to attend their forum on Oct 25th.

sugar

Why call SOS? If you are on Medicare you don't need obamacare, and if you are 55-65 and need the services of SOS you are probably on Medicaid. lmao!

Fromthe419

I purchase my own health coverage as I own a business, I have tried for 11 days to log on to the site to no avail, I want to check the policies on the exchange versus what I am currently paying, they need to get this thing fixes ASAP, I'm losing patience with it.

Darwin's choice

At a cost of 634 million dollars, that website is a perfect reason for the government not to be involved in healthcare! Thats about two dollars for every man, woman, and child in the U.S., and it doesn't work! The excuses given are pathetic. There were several years for the site to be set up, yet more failure. There are enough faults that the hackers will have a field day, coasterfan, big dog, be sure to put yourselves and your familys at risk by signing up!

shucks

Dumb reasoning as always. You are consistently pathetic.

Darwin's choice

Home from the bar early? Pathetic drunk!

shucks

It's - '4shizzle' NOT 'Contango' , dumbass

Stop It

If they can't make the website work, how will they hunt down the people like me who will not sign up? AND, if they do find me, what can they do to me? Make me eat green eggs and ham?

KnuckleDragger

It would be my pleasure to answer your questions. Let me preface this by saying I have read the ACA (unlike most of our Congress) to prep me for my doctoral dissertation. To answer your first question; they won't hunt you down. In fact there is no provision in the law for the IRS or any other department to hunt you down to pay your fines. Remember? The ACA wasn't a tax, before it became a tax. In other words, the little lie the administration made about it being a tax was so that it wouldn't be ruled unconstitutional. In the document, the only provision made for the IRS to be able to collect the fines is by taking it from any tax refund due. This can easily be avoided by making sure your witholdings are only enough to result in a zero refund or owing tax (the law DOESN'T allow them to tack on the fine to your tax liability, remember when it was written it wasn't a tax). Addressing your second question; what can they do to me? The answer in a nutshell is, NOTHING!!! The law doesn't provide for criminal penalties if you don't pay the fine, and because it does not allow the IRS to garnish your wages or reach into your bank accounts to recoup the fine, if you aren't owed a refund then they have no way to collect it. This however is likely to be short lived if the Dems gain control of congress. You can rest assured they will go back and rewrite this so that the IRS can clean you out if you owe fines and then throw you in the slammer.

Let me conclude by saying that the ACA will likely see another lawsuit that has the likelihood of Constitutional challenge. You see, since it was ruled a tax, for it to pass constitutional muster it had to have originated in the House. The ACA originated in the Senate, which makes it unconstitutional. For those low information Dems, the reference is the Origination Clause of the Constitution, Article 1, Section 7 of the US Constitution.

http://www.law.cornell.edu/const...

OSUBuckeye59

KD,

It appears the ACA legislation did indeed originate in the House, but as the article points out, what originated in the House of course was not what was eventually passed in the Senate: http://hotair.com/archives/2012/...

sugar

lol, a lot of people especially the young healthy ones are not signing up, if my insurance through my employer goes up any higher I'll drop it, and take my chances, good luck gestapo obama,you can't chase everyone down.

shucks

That's the worst thing a Repugnant could hear - Obamacare is a success.

dontknowmuch

And if it were a success Obama would be yelling from the mountain tops and the media shills would be feeding us non-stop on how much a success it was. But since numbers are hard to come by, and lets face it, we live in a technology age and those numbers should be readily available. If we can figure out a powerball jackpot winner in a few hours, there's no reason not to have some concrete numbers on Obamacare. The lack of numbers speak volumes. My money's on the younger adults they were banking on to bankroll this law are not signing up to support the older generation as the Democrats had hoped.

sugar

It's a Disaster: Only 51K Sign Up for Obamacare Nationwide ... - Inagist
inagist.com/all/388802861817016320/‎

be for real

Wait till all your insurance cost go up and see how you like this obamacare.My insurance is already going up because of this.Company that I go into all the time told me that their insurance is reccomending them to drop their employees off because they are going up 30% real affordable.You can say what you want speculating,that is all most are doing.This a fact not some lies from the media or someone who thinks thaey know waht is going on

grumpy

It isn't just the premium and if or how much that goes up, many deductibles will go up substantially. Many from $2500 to $5000 or more. That is more out of pocket every year before insurance kicks in. To me that would be more concerning than a premium increase... and if you hit the jackpot and get both... that is obamacare.

KURTje

The headlines here baited many. Give it a chance. How many of you had glitches with your media-care or social security? Want to quit that? How many of your relatives had numerous military issues with their service? You people hate the military too?

Contango

Dr. Ben Carson:

"You know Obamacare is really I think the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery,"

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/20...

Mommy25

I despise obama and his anti-American agenda, I would vote for Dr Carson is half of a millisecond. I also despise hillary. I guess there goes the assumption that I hate obama because I'm racist ;)
Dr Ben Carson would make an excellent President and would be someone I could and would admire, trust and be proud to call President.
obama care is a disaster waiting to happen.

deertracker

How can anyone with half of a brain compare Obamacare to slavery? Was Dr. Carson a slave? What exactly is it that you despise about the President or Mrs. Clinton? Do you know them personally? What is anti-American about his agenda?

getit right be4...

The fact that he is supplying guns to al-Qaeda comes to mind.

sugar

Bravo!

There you go again

51,000. That is the number leaked this week referring to the number of people who have signed up for ObamaCare- In the ENTIRE country. How can this article state "it is virtually impossible" to know if it is successful or not?

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