1 million and counting

Federal health market surpasses 1 million signups.
Associated Press
Dec 29, 2013

A December surge propelled health care sign-ups through the government's rehabilitated website past the 1 million mark, the Obama administration said Sunday, reflecting new vigor for the problem-plagued federal insurance market.

Combined with numbers for state-run markets due in January, that should put total enrollment in the new private insurance plans under President Barack Obama's health law at about 2 million people through the end of the year, independent experts said.

That would be about two-thirds of the administration's original goal of signing up 3.3 million by Dec. 31, a significant improvement given the technical problems that crippled the federal market during much of the fall. The overall goal remains to enroll 7 million people by March 31.

"It looks like current enrollment is around 2 million despite all the issues," said Dan Mendelson, CEO of Avalere Health, a market analysis firm. "It was a very impressive showing for December."

The administration said that of the more than 1.1 million people now enrolled in the federal insurance exchange, nearly 1 million signed up in December. The majority came days before a pre-Christmas deadline for coverage to start in January. Compare that with a paltry 27,000 in October, the federal website's first, error-prone month.

"We experienced a welcome surge in enrollment as millions of Americans seek access to affordable health care coverage," Marilyn Tavenner, the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said in a blog post announcing the figures.

The numbers don't represent a full accounting for the country.

The federal website serves 36 states. Yet to be reported are December results from the 14 states running their own sites. Overall, states have been signing up more people than the federal government. But most of that has come from high performers such as California, New York, Washington, Kentucky and Connecticut. Some states continue to struggle.

Still, the end-of-year spike suggests that the federal insurance marketplace is starting to pull its weight. The windfall comes at a critical moment for Obama's sweeping health care law, which becomes "real" for many Americans on Jan. 1 as coverage through the insurance exchanges and key patient protections kick in.

The administration's concern now shifts to keeping the momentum going for sign-ups, and heading off problems that could arise when people who've already enrolled try to use their new insurance.

"They've got the front end of the system working really well," said insurance industry consultant Robert Laszewski. "Now we can move on to the next question: Do people really want to buy this?" He also estimated 2 million will probably be enrolled this year.

The fledgling insurance exchanges are online markets for subsidized private coverage. Obama needs millions of mostly younger, healthy Americans to sign up to keep costs low for everyone. Open enrollment runs until the end of March.

Tavenner said fixes to the website, overhauled to address widespread technical problems, contributed to December's figures. But things haven't totally cleared up. Thousands of people wound up waiting on hold for telephone help on Christmas Eve for a multitude of reasons, including technical difficulties.

"We have been a little bit behind the curve," acknowledged Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, whose state has the highest proportion of uninsured residents.

"Obamacare is a reality," conceded one of the law's opponents, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., who as House oversight committee chairman has been investigating the rollout problems. However, he predicted it will only pile on costs.

"The fact that people well into the middle class are going to get subsidies is going to cause them to look at healthcare...sort of in a Third World way of do we get subsidies from the government for our milk, for our gasoline and, oh, by the way, for our healthcare," said Issa.

For consumers who successfully selected one of the new insurance plans by Dec. 24, coverage should start on New Year's Day. That's provided they pay their first month's premium by the due date, extended until Jan. 10 in most cases.

But insurers have complained that another set of technical problems, largely hidden from consumers, has resulted in the government passing along inaccurate data on enrollees. With a flood of signups that must be processed in just days, it remains unclear whether last-minute enrollees will encounter a seamless experience if they try to use their new benefits come Jan. 1.

The White House says the error rate has been significantly reduced, but the political fallout from website woes could pale in comparison with the heat that Obama might take if Americans who signed up and paid their premiums arrive at the pharmacy or the emergency room and find there's no record of their coverage.

Officials are also working to prevent gaps in coverage for at least 4.7 million Americans whose individual policies were canceled this fall because they fell short of the law's requirements. The administration has said that even if those individuals don't sign up for new plans, they won't face the law's tax penalty for remaining uninsured.

A few states offering their own updates have posted encouraging totals, including New York, where more than 200,000 have enrolled either through the state exchange or through Medicaid, a government program expanded under Obama's health law to cover more people. In California, a tally released Friday showed nearly 430,000 have enrolled through the exchange so far.

Castro and Issa spoke on NBC's "Meet The Press."

___

Alonso-Zaldivar reported from Washington. Reach Josh Lederman at http://twitter.com/joshledermanAP

 

Comments

Darwin's choice

How about this obamabots....

The Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) warned the citizens of Iowa who have applied for Obamacare using the federal health care portal to try, try again, using the websites or call center. Nearly 16,000 Iowans whose applications are currently in limbo are going to receive emails and letters from DHS.

"Federal officials told the Iowans that more time would be necessary to process the Iowa citizens’ applications from HealthCare.gov.

DHS Director Charles M. Palmer asserted, "We are working hard to ensure that Iowans who applied through HealthCare.gov will be enrolled in health coverage. We are encouraging Iowans who applied at the federal portal to reapply through our state website and call center. We will make every effort to process applications in a timely manner so that these Iowans can have certainty about their health care coverage." "

This monumental failure should result in obama's impeachment!

And, aren't they about 16 million behind what they've needed?

More lies...

__________________

coasterfan

Seriously? You think this is impeach-worthy? Did you even read the article? Here, let me summarize. The website is fixed, and the number of people who have successfully signed up has grown exponentially, and continues to grow. Look, we didn't impeach Bush for ignoring pre 9/11 warnings, nor for lying about WMDs, so no one is going to impeach Obama for something that Congress passed, the Supreme Court upheld, and for which Obama got re-elected. Sorry to break the news to you, but Obamacare is working. By 2016, this discussion will be moot, as it will be obvious that it was the right thing to do for America and Americans.

Contango

Re: "Obamacare is working."

If it's "working" then how do you explain the 15-16 executive ordered mandate procedural delays?

Darwin's choice

"Seriously" You idiot, there are an encyclopedia of charges that should be brought up against the failure in chief. He's gotten away with enough crap to make Richard Nixon look like the saint he is! And your pathetic statement about WMD has been proven over and over to have been democrat supported. And, Stevie Wonder can see that obamacare is a failure, your stupidity and blatant disregard for the people of the United States with your constant cheerleading is alarming. I fear for the students you've brainwashed, if you really were/are a teacher.

There you go again

And who is paying for the subsidies so that these "folks" can get insurance?!
And who is gonna pay for these "folks" when they have to pay their $5000 deductible?!?!

The answer is the same for both questions, yep, it is You and Me.

And you are telling us that Obamacare is working?!?! Working on what?

mikesee

It is working so well the Harry Reid exempted any and all of his staffers from signing up! Working real good.

swiss cheese kat

Flagged for off-topic bull$h1t.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

October 17, 2008 - CBS

Hawaii is dropping the only state universal child health care program in the United States just seven months after it launched.

Gov. Linda Lingle's administration cited budget shortfalls and other available health care options for eliminating funding for the program.

A state official said families were dropping private coverage so their children would be eligible for the subsidized plan.

"People who were already able to afford health care began to stop paying for it so they could get it for free," said Dr. Kenny Fink, the administrator for Med-QUEST at the Department of Human Services. "I don't believe that was the intent of the program."

State officials said Thursday they will stop giving health coverage to the 2,000 children enrolled by Nov. 1, but private partner Hawaii Medical Service Association will pay to extend their coverage through the end of the year without government support.

"We're very disappointed in the state's decision, and it came as a complete surprise to us," said Jennifer Diesman, a spokeswoman for HMSA, the state's largest health care provider. "We believe the program is working, and given Hawaii's economic uncertainty, we don't think now is the time to cut all funding for this kind of program."

Hawaii lawmakers approved the health plan in 2007 as a way to ensure every child can get basic medical help. The Keiki (child) Care program aimed to cover every child from birth to 18 years old who didn't already have health insurance - mostly immigrants and members of lower-income families.

State health officials argued that most of the children enrolled in the universal child care program previously had private health insurance, indicating that it was helping those who didn't need it.

The U.S. is one of the few western countries that does not have universal health care, although many states have government programs to help parents cover their children.

= = = = = = = = = =

Not sure if the spam filter will catch me here so just visit the below for an article that has even more information:

nypost .com /2008 /10 /27 / hawaiis-hard-health-care-lesson/

I guess the two week long vacation in Hawaii is actually a business trip to discover why his home state wasn't able to sustain a program on good intentions alone. It's that dumb real life/economic consequences that keep getting in the way.

Much like Scooby-Doo villains, these legislators would get away with it if it wasn't for those pesky kids.

Contango

Also in the news -

"Hawaii 'Return To Home' Program Will Pay To Fly Homeless People Back To The Mainland "

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

Gotta luv those 'compassionate' liberals. lol

FTFOI

What they are not specifying is how many of them were medicade people who had until Dec. 23 to choice a plan or one would be chosen for them.

Don S

People are like pool tables. Their brains are in the side pockets and they only take them out to play with them !!!!!!

vicariouslyAlive

I think one thing most people are missing is the numbers game... which really is the funniest part....

The number 1 million, or, 1,000,000 seems like a pretty big number right? Well, when you put on the board against current population projection numbers of citizens in the united states and the amount of illegals that get the free health care just for signing up, 1 million people out of around 400,000,000 people in population... that's the same as 1 penny from 4 dollars worth of coins.

All of a sudden 1 million doesn't look too large...

BabyMomma

Obamacare is a joke. Is the Kool Aid grape or strawberry? And do you idiots drink it, or sniff lines of it?

Dr. Information

40 million uninsured people. Well make that closer to 50 million once people lost their plans due to Obamacare. So they have 1 million "INTERESTED" people who haven't even paid a dime yet. Wow, setting records.

Until 30+ million people are signed up and paying, then Obamacare is nothing less than a failure.

grumpy

One million people signed up for health insurance under obamascare, 5 million people lost their health insurance because it didn't meet obamascare coverage requirements. Seems to me we now have 4 million more people who don't have healthcare insurance. The gov't claims this as a proof that obamascare is working. Count me as someone who is glad that gov't isn't in charge of feeding the people... yet.

anthras

in addition to the millions of cancellations what about the millions that did not receive a cancellation but went from 40 pay with a health plan that allowed them to see their dr. to being regulated to part time 28 hours pay with no healthcare. Now they must obtain their own health care and have 12 hours less pay per week to do it.

AJ Oliver

civilized countries have health care plans that cover everyone. The right wing in the U.S. (which includes some Dems), has been blocking common sense reforms for over a century. The discussion here has mostly a laughable lack of international perspective. And, oh yeah, it's a coward's game to engage in anonymous name-calling.

Contango

Re: "civilized countries have health care plans that cover everyone."

A specious argument since those countries have mostly small homogenous populations.

To cover the U.S. with a single payer no out of pocket plan and it's approx. 320 million people with it’s diversity of cultures and races would be the equivalent of covering the entire European Union with a single payer plan.

Call up The Bernank and have him print another few trillion dollars in order to cover the costs.

IMO, a HDHP with an HSA for everyone is a debate worth having.

BabyMomma

How the heII do I know if that's your real name? I could make a name that is A.J. Oliver, And boom, I'm AJ Oliver as well.

Contango

Re: "The right wing in the U.S. (which includes some Dems), has been blocking common sense reforms for over a century."

And the progressive-collectivists won't be satisfied until all health and welfare programs are financially and procedurally secured under their control.

THEY in their infinite wisdom know what's best for everyone.

Unfortunately the progressive-socialists fail to acknowledge the contributions of autocratic strongman Otto von Bismark who began the modern day state controlled health and welfare movement.

Apparently life is better under a "kinder & gentler" form of tyranny.

As is said: The road to H*ll is paved with good intentions.

mikesee

And the base tax rate for those countries which EVERY person has to pay with NO tax refunds is around 47%. Like to see that work here!

Contango

Re: "47%"

Good point.

Also, countries like Germany are net exporters and not large domestic consumer cultures.

Since 70% of U.S. GDP is based on consumption, a tax increase would harm our economy as it currently stands.

We are a nation of spenders.

swiss cheese kat

Flagged for off-topic bull$h1t.

SamAdams

Let's take a quick break from the celebration to look at some numbers.

According to the government, about 30 million people were without health insurance coverage. Now, thanks to Obamacare, about six million people (so far) have LOST their health insurance coverage. Two million (if you believe government numbers — I don't, but what the heck?) have signed up for insurance under Obamacare (they haven't paid, so they're not covered, but again, what the heck?). So, thanks to Obamacare, there's a net LOSS of four million!

Wow. What an AWESOME program! If we applied this methodology to jobs or the economy, we could see unemployment hit 20% and the country would be bankrupt! You go, Obama! (Preferably, go AWAY...)

Contango

Re: "So, thanks to Obamacare, there's a net LOSS of four million!"

A camel is a horse designed and built by committee.

mikesee

To bad the caption isn't on here. I saw this in another paper that had the caption. The girl on the left is a customer who is high fiving a person that just signed her up for ACA. According to the caption it only took 1.5 hours to do it! Yep, working real well!

Contango

When all is said and done, Mr. Obama OWNS PolitiFact's 2013 "Lie of the Year."

"If you like your health care plan, you can keep it."

It's the phrase that will be like a stone around the necks of the Dems who repeated it leading up to the 2014 mid-term elections.

http://www.politifact.com/oregon...

mikesee

The BIG question is just how many of the sign-ups are healthy? In all probability the majority of the enrollees are probably not healthy. Unless an influx of healthy people sign up to offset costs the premiums will esculate in a hurry.

SamAdams

Don't know about healthy vs. unhealthy, but the age is skewed older than "desireable," and the majority have signed up for Medicaid NOT regular health insurance. Like I said, AWESOME program!

Contango

Why is the inequity of paying with after-tax dollars for individual health coverage on the exchanges, while continuing to allow corps., businesses & union trusts to deduct the cost of employee health care premiums (before tax dollars) not being addressed ???

Why isn't the market value of covered employees' and retirees' health and welfare benefits being taxed on an individual basis?

Sen. McCain suggested this in '08 and got skewered for it.

This income tax inequity is largely payback for Pres. Obama's union buddies.

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