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

The New World Czar

Given Ohio has approximately 1/30 of the US population, this ratios to around 1700 state-wide; this is an average if 22 people per county.

Wow, an overwhelmingly great response? NOT

sugar

Because the entire MSM is biased, just like the SR is, lies, deception, mis/disinformation, misleading headlines, a total waste of time getting factual news from any of them.

Dr. Information

More bad reporting from the liberal media. How surprising. The website is a nightmare and full of bugs. Of course, who expected something else?

Truth or Dare

Slavery never died. It's just that now we're all slaves to our own government. Unless of course you have an in w/the Federal Government.

Hey Darwin; You've reminded me of a line from the movie "Independence Day"....You don't really think a toilet seat cost $5000, do ya?

Darwin's choice

Lol! Yes, someone made a fortune with the billing for that! Blue Cross had a total remake of their website in 2012, for a cost of nearly 13 million, seems like a bargain!!!

EZOB

Has the government ever run anything that has been a success? Is the government known to be prompt on anything? Oh yea, collecting our taxes and foreign aid payments. This is not O'Bama to me, it's about the government as a whole. I trust very little that comes out of Washington and for that matter, Columbus also. People want to trust a system that does more for Illegals and Foreigners over-seas than it does for our own citizens and Military? I am out of touch, I guess. I just can't reason any common sense out of more government contrrol. I personally liked My freedom and freedom of choice but it sure is going to "H&ll in a handbag very fast". Most don't appreciate what they have till it's gone.

coasterfan

The non-stop doom and gloom and hand-wringing from the conservative media is exhausting. Republicans aren't afraid that Obamacare won't succeed, they are afraid that it will. That's why they want to defund it - before people have a chance to see that they actually like it.

Certainly, the GOP would score far bigger points if the law failed on its own, and given their pathological willingness to do anything that is anti-Obama - even if it hurts America - one would think that they would just step aside and watch Obamacare fail, just to say "see, I told you so", and thus prove Obama wrong.

But they aren't doing that. They instead are in hysterics, calling it "the worst thing to ever happen to Americans". We Democrats believe that the Civil War and slavery, to name a couple of obvious examples, were bigger problems than providing health care to our citizens.

Everyone had agreed years ago that the American healthcare system was unsustainable, and Republicans had the chance to enact a system to their liking during the 8-year Bush presidency, but did nothing, leaving the door open for Obama and Democrats to do so.

The ACA is law, passed by Congress, signed into law by the President, and affirmed by a conservative- dominated Supreme Court. It is WELL PAST the point of the negotiation stage. If Republicans don't like the law, they should use normal constitutional channels to repeal the law.

grumpy

" they should use normal constitutional channels to repeal the law."

Or they could continue the suit already in the pipeline. Since SCOTUS ruled obamacare a tax, it wasn't passed in the order the Constitution states it need to be. As mentioned by KnuckleDragger, see his post from above. Here is an article or two you might just find interesting that might explain it to you.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/n...

http://www.forbes.com/sites/thea...

http://blog.pacificlegal.org/201...

Dr. Information

They should just defund it. That is the proper channel. Truth.

coasterfan

Republicans should simply toddle up to the fact that Fox News is not able to report a complete, unbiased, unvarnished truth. It only reports what conservatives want to hear.

Leading up to the 2012 election, every non-conservative media outlet reported that Obama was up in the polls. Fox and all the GOP radio talking heads went on and on about a supposed "liberal bias in the polls", and continued with that line of thought even as election results were coming in that evening. They, of course, were absolutely wrong and it turns out that the pre-election polls by everyone else were correct all along.

This was not a surprise to the millions of Americans who look at Fox, Hannity, Limbaugh, Levin et al, with tired amusement. When you substitute opinion/rhetoric in place of actual statistical fact, you get what you paid for: another four years outside the White House...

Darwin's choice

Spin away Obamabot!!

The end result is Obama failure! Again!!

This incessant blowjob you're giving Obama is very telling of you, troll.

shucks

always the dumbass

The Big Dog's back

Coaster, they don't comprehend a word we say. They live in a rush bubble.

Dr. Information

Its not Fox New's fault that Obama and his policies have been a collection of misleading, ill informed garbage. No, that would be Obama's fault.

Easy to see you are one of the ones that want to blame everyone else instead of the one that truly is at fault. Welcome to the new America.

sugar

No "hand-wringing", we leave that to the crisis manufacturers on the left. We are intelligent enough to know that you cannot fix healthcare with mandates and adding people but telling us it's going to cost less. Lies from the get go. This isa normal channel, we have 3 co equal branches of Government. They can pass a law, the POTUS can sign it, but the most important part is getting the House to fund it. No funding, no law. It's perfectly Constitutional. But since it is just that, I have no doubt most libs would understand.

Centauri

I have read horror stories about disabled people being denied social security benefits. These people were truly disabled and could not work, some were on their death beds and died while awaiting the appeals process.

I have read about the fakers who claimed to be disabled and worked a job, being paid wages under the table. I have seen people who are on Social Security disability benefits, remodel their homes, tear off and put on a new roof or compete in a family basketball game.

Enter the law firms who help people receive denied SS benefits.

http://howtogetsocialsecuritydis...

Will the same be true with national health care? Will the truly sick be denied benefits and the fakers getting medical treatment that was not needed?

Are the attorneys looking forward to the denied medical benefits as another source of court cases and money?

IDK

This "affordable healthcare" will cost my husband and I over $800 per month. Now I don't know about the rest of you, but that surely doesn't sound affordable to me.

Dr. Information

The problem lies in the deductible. You can get catastrophic insurance for a single person and the prices range from state to state, but the deductible is the secret killer. Most are thousands of dollars reaching up into the 15,000 dollar range. If you can't afford insurance, or can barely squeeze it in, how are you to pay for that deductible. Most Americans don't have anything near to that in their checking or savings. Truth.

coasterfan

No, the problem is that Republicans are completely blind to the fact that we ALL are currently paying $2000 a year out of pocket (in the form of higher insurance premiums) to subsidize the health care for the 30 million Americans who don't have healthcare pre-ACA.

I thought Republicans were the party in favor of Individual Responsibility. Obamacare does exactly that: it mandates that people pay for a goodly portion of their OWN healthcare, instead of making you and I foot the entire bill FOR THEM.

Republicans were entirely for an ACA type plan. That is, until Obama took office and picked up the cause that the GOP and Heritage Foundation proposed. Buncha conservative hypocrites...

Darwin's choice

Hillbilly troll.

shucks

dumbass troll

The Big Dog's back

Black-track
Verb
The act of changing one’s mind because President Obama has agreed with you.

See also: pulling a one-hatey, Kenyan boomerang

sugar

What you don't understand is that obamacare is still going to have some people paying higher premiums to cover those who have preexisting conditions or can't afford it. obamacare did not fix anything it handed a lot of power to people who cannot be trusted with it. Period.

Dr. Information

Proof please coasterfan?

mikesee

This Obamacare is far from good for our country. Some examples:

1. Out of curiosity I had my secretary call a local insurance company that is an outlet for Obamacare. She gave them all required information. Her current premium is $392 per month. An Obamacare plan for same coverage's is $621 per month!

2. A friend of mine who is a businessman buys his health insurance through a local Chamber of Commerace and has been informed that this no longer qualifies as a "group employee" plan and will no longer be able to have this insurance come Jan 1, 2014. He received an estimate that will increase his family coverage from $786 per month to $927 per month.

3. My current healthcare plan, HSA, that I choose has a $10,000 deductible and I have been able to accumalate about $3500 into my account. I have been notified that at my renewal in March that my deductible will be lowered to $4,000 (new guideline), max amount in my HSA account can only be $2,500 (new guideline)and, yippee, my premium will be going up about $350 per month due to a lower deductible!!

That is just fantastic news!

I distinctly remember Pres. Obama saying "that if I like my healthcare plan I can keep it"!! He is a liar and so is that puke looking Pelosi and Reid.

EZOB

coasterfan,
You guys really need to pull your heads out of you know where. Please get your tunnel vision off the fox news rhetoric and such and listen to those of us that hjave checked how much our premiums are going up. You mention that everyone is going to pay. I ask, how are you going to collect from the 30 million illegals and where are the 45-50 million going to get the money who are already on government subsidies. If you have such a huge amount of money to hand out a lot of us would appreciate the help. You guys are right, pass the whole thing and let it fail, maybe the Almighty One could be impeached or He could resign.

deertracker

Earth to EZOB: WAKE UP!

The Big Dog's back

Isn't it amusing how the right wingnuts are finally acknowledging how low wages are in this country? Their fake concern about "how are they going to pay for it"? You right wingnuts could give 2 sheets as to how they are going to pay for it You are one bunch of despicable people.

Darwin's choice

Cruz/Palin 2016

sugar

Do either of you 2 have anything to offer besides silly epithets, insults, or parroting talking points? Look here everyone these 2 are obama voters!

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