White House projected strong health insurance signups

Estimates may be used as yardstick to measure performance of health care law
Associated Press
Oct 15, 2013


The Obama administration's internal projections called for strong enrollment in the states in the first year of new health insurance markets, according to unpublished estimates obtained by The Associated Press. Whether those expectations will bear out is unclear.

Technology glitches have frustrated many consumers trying to sign up for coverage online, and efforts to upgrade and repair healthcare.gov are ongoing.

But the estimates, obtained through a public records request, may be the closest thing to a yardstick for measuring the performance of President Barack Obama's health care law across the states.

The enrollment breakdown by states was included in a draft of an administration report on insurance premiums in the new markets, but it was omitted from a subsequent version that was released to the public last month by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Leading up to the opening of insurance markets Oct. 1, the White House generally deflected questions about its own expectations of how consumers would respond. Officials instead cited a congressional estimate that 7 million people would gain coverage in the first year through the markets, which offer subsidized private insurance to people who don't have a job-based health plan.

The draft, dated Sept. 20, broke down the figure of 7 million among states. It estimated the expected enrollment in California, for example, at 1. 3 million people in 2014. The estimate for Texas was 629,000 and for Florida, 477,000. The report estimated 340,000 people would enroll in Washington state, and 218,000 in New York.

The final report, released Sept. 25, omitted the enrollment estimates, but it was identical in most other respects.

Asked why the estimates were missing from the final report, HHS spokeswoman Joanne Peters said in a statement: "We are focused on reaching as many people as possible about their options. There are many estimates of how many people will enroll in year one." Some states have released their own estimates, she added, and other states are changing theirs based on experience.

The omission puzzled some experts in the field.

"Why there is this reluctance to share internal estimates, I don't know," said health economist Gail Wilensky, who ran Medicare for President George H.W. Bush. "This kind of information has a way of worming its way out into the open, which makes it look like they have something to hide."

While consumer interest in the new health insurance markets has been undeniably strong, it's hard to get a sense of how many people have been able to navigate balky federal and state websites and successfully enroll. Numbers released by states running their own marketplaces suggest upward of 100,000 people have enrolled so far, out of millions of potential interested customers.

The administration refuses to release numbers for the 36 states in which it is taking the lead. Officials at first said the frozen computer screens and other issues were the result of a high volume of interest. They later acknowledged software and design issues were also to blame.

HHS belatedly rolled out a feature that allows consumers to get a look at health plans in their area without first establishing an account. The requirement that people set up an account before shopping was at odds with the normal way e-commerce websites are run, and was blamed for overloading the system.

Appearing earlier this week on MSNBC, former White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the situation is "excruciatingly embarrassing" for the administration.

"This was bungled badly," said Gibbs, adding: "When they get it fixed, I hope they fire some people that were in charge of making sure this thing was supposed to work."

Although Gibbs did not refer to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Tuesday she has "the full confidence of the president."

The potential political fallout from the troubled launch of the insurance markets isn't the major issue, however. There are bigger concerns for the impact on average Americans and, if signups remain anemic, on federal taxpayers.

The more uninsured people who buy coverage, the sooner they'll have access to services — well-patient checkups and prescription drugs among them — to help them improve their health and avoid a crisis that could be far costlier than preventive medicine. Their children will have access to services, too.

Just as important, robust enrollment by younger, healthier people is critical because older people and people with illnesses, who are more expensive to insure, are highly motivated to sign up. Insurers will be relying on revenue from policies they sell to younger people who need fewer services to help make up the difference.

An insurance pool tilted toward older, sicker people also would raise costs for the government, which will be subsidizing the coverage.

The AP obtained a copy of the federal enrollment estimates in a public records request with Idaho's health insurance marketplace, Your Health Idaho.

Uninsured people have until Dec. 15 to sign up for coverage to take effect Jan. 1, when most Americans will be required to have health insurance.



Darwin's choice

A group formed from the ruins of ACORN is hard at work signing people up for ObamaCare, and may be collecting taxpayer cash for their work despite Congress' efforts to cut the organization and its affiliates off from government funding, a watchdog group charged.

The United Labor Unions Council Local 100, a New Orleans-based nonprofit, announced last month it would take part in a multi-state "navigator" drive to help people enroll in President Obama's health care plan. The labor council was established by ACORN founder Wade Rathke after his larger group was broken up amid scandal in 2009 and banned from receiving taxpayer funds.

“At a time when our government has ceased functioning due to an appropriations gap, it is ironic that America’s tax dollars are being doled out to an entity whose poor stewardship of our funds was well-established by Congress,” said Dan Epstein, executive director of Cause of Action, a nonpartisan watchdog group based in Washington. "

Darwin's choice

Coasterfan,big dog, deertracker,shizzle, make sure to sign up! Be good Obamabots! Give all your information to the good government cons, er organizers! Yeah, thats it, community organizers!!!

An illegal immigrant in New York is serving as an Obamacare navigator, according to the Center for Immigration Studies, a non-profit limited immigration group.
According to a CIS report, Maria Marroquin — identified as an illegal immigrant as recently as March 2013 — from Peru is also the “Health Education Organizer” for the Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York (ROC-NY).
ROC-NY is listed as a subcontractor for the “New York Health Benefit Exchange: In-Person Assistors and Navigators.”

There you go again

Can Obama really call it "insurance" if the policy carries a $6000 deductible?!?!
If a family previously could not afford medical coverage how will they pay for the first $6000 before any "insurance" kicks in? Just wondering.....


Not to mention the premiums alone are unaffordable for most...


IMO, a high deductible health ins. plan (HDHP) with an accompanying health savings account (HSA) is a concept worth discussing.

Dr. Ben Carson proposed this idea:


Agree, there is no reason for someone to go bankrupt for being sick, but ACA is an authoritarian bastardized free-market boondoggle.

ACA: A camel is a horse designed by Washington bureaucrats.

MAJOR PROBLEM: If healthy young people don't sign up, premium costs explode and the entire structure collapses.

Darwin's choice

"Progressive Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein, a strong Obamacare supporter, wrote on Monday that "So far, the Affordable Care Act's launch has been a failure. Not 'troubled.' Not 'glitchy.' A failure."
Obamacare will cost taxpayers $2.6 trillion over the next ten years."

Thanks, Obama!!


Re "A failure."

And the moronic Progressive argument is:

If ONLY those Repub states would have cooperated and set up their own health ins. exchanges, they could have participated in fiscally bankrupting their own states.

Pres. Obama liked to use mandatory auto ins. as the analogy for mandatory health ins.

What if there was no pre-existing on auto ins.?

Do ya think that automatically guaranteeing drunks, disabled (i.e. blind) and bad drivers auto ins. (at community rates) wouldn't push everyone's premiums up?

Darwin's choice

Coasterfan, Big Dog, Deertracker, shizzle...All for you cheerleaders..!!


The Darwin Award for democrats !!!!!!


Re: "Coasterfan, Big Dog, Deertracker, shizzle,"

Coasterfan: Get's his and his spouse's health ins. GUARANTEED by OH taxpayers through STRS.


Big Dog: Has his employer provide health ins. and help pay the premium, yet he hates capitalism.

Deertracker & 4shizzle: Medicaid.


Isn't it interesting that those who've already got what they want (and are, thanks to exceptions, luck, and the American taxpayer, able to keep it) are totally behind "Obummercare?" And isn't it even MORE interesting that even Obama-backers are more and more AGAINST the ACA the more and more they know about it (and the more and more they discover they have to pay)?

LOVED the woman who was interviewed and said she thought everybody SHOULD have insurance; she just didn't know SHE'D have to PAY for it! You think???

"Everyone wants to live at the expense of the state. They forget that the state lives at the expense of everyone." Frederic Bastiat


Re: "SHE'D have to PAY for it!"

Kinda like that woman at the Obama/Biden campaign rally huh?



Now Sam, why should someone have to take responsibility for themselves? I would encourage EVERY working person in this country to quit their jobs and have more kids and reap the benefits and rewards that our gov't heaps on these people!!!


"Republicans aren't afraid that Obamacare won't work, they're afraid that it WILL."

- coasterfan, 10/03/2013

So what does Obama☭are's Number One protected class cheerleader think now?


Peninsula Pundit

Magpies addressing people who haven't posted.
How sad.
There's no talking sense to you guys,so everyone just doesn't bother to try anymore.
Now, sadly, you have only yourselves to screech at.
And only yourselves to blame.
You guys come onto a board, pass your special kind of gas and then congratulate each other on how fine it smells.
Have at it!


Re: "How sad."

"That struts and frets his hour upon the stage. And then is heard no more: it is a tale. Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing." - Macbeth (Act 5, Scene 5)


And the source of your health ins. is?



I'm just sad that most progressives probably don't have a clue who Macbeth is...


Re: "Macbeth"

IMO, the GREATEST work ever created. It's got EVERYTHING!


"That struts and frets his hour upon the stage. And then is heard no more: it is a tale. Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing."

Macbeth has you figured out too , Commietango.


Spot on , Pundit.

Darwin's choice

"you guys come onto a board,pass your special kind of gas and then congratulate each other on how fine it smells....."

And yet, here you are inhaling deeply!!! Another hypocrite....


Re: "inhaling deeply!!!"


Notice what we got from the Obama "Peanut Gallery"?

Name calling, nonsense and no substance. Good little Obamabots (head pat).

And THESE are the "brighter" ones (eye roll).


Hey durwood !

Out goes the bad air , in goes the good.


Enjoy !


Great observation Pundit. This is another valid why America is in trouble.


"White House projected strong health insurance signups" When pigs fly

The New World Czar

100,000 enrolled already? Wow, that's one IRS agent enforcing roughly 6 participants.

Better yet, one Obamacare representative for every five at "massive" Pittsburgh sign-up rally, enjoy your Kool-Aid.


Stop It

It's not enforceable, therefore it won't work. make me put a seatbelt on, make me drive 55, tell me I can't smoke dope, say I can't have a gun... and now this? Really? Who thinks this will fly?

The Big Dog's back

It's so funny watching the right wingnuts implode.


Re: "watching,"

Your eyesight's bad.

Got vision care in your health plan?

So have you told your employer to dump your plan so you can go on Obam☭are?

Darwin's choice

Hey big dog,

I wanted to let you know that earlier today I received my "Obamacare enrollment packet” from the White House.It contained:· An aspirin and a band-aid.· An 'Obama Hope & Change' bumper sticker· A 'Bush's Fault' yard sign· A 'Blame Republicans first, then anybody and everybody' poster· A 'Tax the Rich' banner· An application for unemployment and a free cellphone· An application for food stamps· A prayer rug· A letter assigning my debt to my grandchildren· And lastly, a coupon for a machine that blows smoke up my ass.
It was made up in China,and all the needed directions are in Spanish.