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

SamAdams

Better yet, why don't we just institute the Fair Tax? Oh, wait. That might actually be, you know, less complicated; impossible to cheat on; result in LOWER tax liabilities for almost all of us (especially those who can least afford it), and be, you know, FAIR!

Obamacare is going to tax most of us into oblivion. And when we HIT oblivion, the progressives will say, "Oh, my gosh, we TRIED the free market, it didn't work, so now we'll go to single payer," and we can all look forward to 50% (or higher) taxes here, too. Can't wait.

Contango

coasterfan writes:

"no one is going to impeach Obama for something that Congress passed, the Supreme Court upheld, and for which Obama got re-elected."

Prohibition was passed by Congress AND the States, upheld by SCOTUS and was ultimately undone.

Impeachment fear is Dem propaganda.

After the Repubs take the Senate and retain Congress, Mr. Obama will be a TRUE lame duck president. Little need to bother with impeachment.

Donegan

http://www.c-spanvideo.org/progr...
The case is being made for impeachment for abuse of power and using what amounts to a line item veto.

Contango

"If 2013 Was Hard on Obamacare, Just Wait for 2014" (Bloomberg):

"First, some of Obamacare’s least popular provisions go into effect in 2014. This includes a new $60 billion tax on health insurers, which will be levied relative to premiums collected and directly passed on to consumers."

"Second, millions of Americans who buy their coverage on the individual market or get it through small employers will be shocked by just how much their premiums go up in 2014."

"Third, not only will millions of Americans on the individual and small group markets who like their plans be unable to keep them in 2014, but many will experience what it’s like to be unable to continue seeing the doctors they know and trust."

"Finally, Obamacare’s Medicare cuts will continue to hurt senior citizens. For the 14 million people enrolled in the Medicare Advantage program, the ACA’s $200 billion in cuts over the next 10 years will accelerate in 2014 and have tangible impacts on beneficiaries."

Good luck Dems in 2014!

The Big Dog's back

These right wingnuts are funny. Like a circular firing squad.

Contango

Re: "These (snip)"

Thanks for the news from Bizarro World.

Darwin's choice

Kinda like the circle you make licking your azz?

And you still won't get the taste of obama out of your mouth....

Bottom Line

As usual the pooch ignores and sidesteps all the facts and gives an idiotic comment. Typical.

swiss cheese kat's picture
swiss cheese kat

So true.

Donegan

I wonder, Will you change your name again to avoid the shame of failure after Obamacare fails or will you wait to Obama leaves? A hint for you:Change your name now and avoid the rush.

Donegan

I wonder, Will you change your name again to avoid the shame of failure after Obamacare fails or will you wait to Obama leaves? A hint for you:Change your name now and avoid the rush.

swiss cheese kat's picture
swiss cheese kat

Flagged for off-topic bull$h1t.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Ok, that's it. You've forced my hand Big Dog. I didn't want to do this but I must.

I WILL NOW CALL TO ORDER THE SANDUSKY REGISTER'S GUILD OF EVIL CONSERVATIVES! SECRET IDENTITY ROLE CALL!

Contango, Nemesis, grumpy, SamAdams, Darwin's choice, swiss cheese kat, Dr. Information, Stop It, 2cents, thinkagain, mikesee, and donutshopguy (I know there are more and sorry for not listing everyone because there's a lot of us).

All here? Good. Now we need to set aside our plans about how we actively plot to literally destroy the environment and actually infect babies with disease to discuss an urgent matter that has come to light. Yes, this means more than our current project of overtly practicing racist and sexist law writing (referring in this case to Proposition 81 "Keep Everyone Who Isn't a Rich, Male W.A.S.P. Unemployed Act").

It seems we have a spy in our midst! Yes, yes settle down. Save the harrumphing for the end.

After having been a part of this group for about a year now I have come to the conclusion that The Big Dog's Back is actually a Republican plant. A spy, as it were. My evidence? There is no way that a Democrat could actually say and think the things he does if they are the party of compassion, people, etc. Look at his patterns of behavior over time and you will see that there can be no possible other explanation other than he is a Republican operative attempting to discredit the Democratic Party with his comments.

Like you, I have had the pleasure of meeting and conversing with liberals who can hold a conversation and make points even if they are ones upon which we disagree. However, and the reason I bring this up before the Guild, is that this spy is discrediting those who attempt to reason their different ideas. This poses a threat to our society and we can't stand for it because only WE are supposed to bring civilization to the brink of collapse. For what other reason does our Guild of Evil Conservatives exist?

So, I beseech you all to levy a verdict against Big Dog. He is not only threatening our job of telling other people what to do with their lives and making broad-brush strokes against society, but he is also actively committing espionage and subterfuge against a political party with which we may yet reason.

The Republicans are all but lost to us (a husk of a party, really, save for some scrapings at the bottom of the barrel), but the Democrats are an untapped reserve of potential that WE need to irresponsibly pollute and drill into like we do with every energy exploration we undertake. Big Dog is spoiling the Democrats before we can get to them!

So is he a spy/saboteur? If so, how do we deal with him as the Guild of Evil Conservatives?

The Big Dog's back

sappy, you've out did yourself this time.

Darwin's choice

Neuter the dog......!

thinkagain

I really would like to help, but I’ll have to make it quick. My hateful, bigoted, judgmental efforts to bring light to a dark world takes up much of my time.

Deep down inside he knows he’s a sick puppy and that we destroy his arguments again and again.

If he is a Republican operative, he’s doing a bang up job at typifying the brain-dead liberal.

Consider the possibility big dog is manipulating human responses, positioning himself for the eventual take over by those like him.

Already his hidden agenda has successfully infiltrated our Highest Office.

Through Obama’s failed leadership, this country is going to the dogs.

I give him kudos for his apropos choice of pseudonym, after all, debating him is as intellectually rewarding as a conversation with the family dog.

Minuteman

Only those who are clueless signed up to be fleeced. I think they were rounded up with propaganda and are all signing up on a whim. Just like the presidential elections, voting with no idea of what's going on. Most have no idea it will cost them anything, they have been told it'll be free for them. The evil rich will pay for them. I also think many of those names are falsified. Let's see an alphabetical list, you'll be surprised at all the names that are nearly identical. I'm not buying this story of working Americans all getting on board Obamacare. It's those with no income that are signing up for a freebie.

Dr. Information

Can they just hand out the turd of the year award to Obamacare already? Going to be hard to top that with one day left.

Contango

"Change Is Obamacare's Only Certainty" (Bloomberg):

"Sometime after March 31 -- probably not very far after -- I would expect the administration to announce that after careful thought, it has decided not to enforce the individual mandate for 2014."

Geez, where would this legislative monstrosity be without all of Pres. Obama's numerous emergency patches?

I guess that Nancy had to pass it, so Barack could find out how scr*wed up it was.

Emperor Obama:

I don't...uh...need no...er...Congressional approval to...ah...change this law. It's...ah...named after me isn't it?

donutshopguy

.003 of 1% of the people in the United States are signed up. Success……you have got to be kidding me.

Contango

Using the Obama Admin.'s logic, the Browns had a winning season.

Darwin's choice

LOL....Again!!!!

grumpy

From the Wall Street Journal:

"On health care, President Obama oversaw a disastrous and, sadly, dishonest launch of his signature achievement. The president gave an exception to employers, but not to individuals, without any legal basis, and made other adjustments according to his whim. Even more troubling was his message over the past three years that if you like your plan, you can keep it, and that if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. We now know that the administration was aware that these claims were false, yet Mr. Obama continued to make them, repeatedly.

In 2014, millions of Americans will likely discover that the president's claim that the average family will save $2,500 on health insurance was equally disconnected from reality.

The president apologized in part for his statements, but his actions reveal the extent to which he has conformed to, rather than challenged, the political culture that as a presidential candidate he vowed to reform.

The culture that Mr. Obama campaigned against, the old kind of politics, teaches politicians that repetition and "message discipline"—never straying from using the same slogans and talking points—can create reality, regardless of the facts. Message discipline works if the goal is to win an election or achieve a short-term political goal. But saying that something is true doesn't make it so. When a misleading message ultimately clashes with reality, the result is dissonance and conflict. In a republic, deception is destructive. Without truth there can be no trust. Without trust there can be no consent. And without consent we invite paralysis, if not chaos."

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

Pretty much sums it up.
I would have linked article but the spam filter won't accept links again today. If you wist to read entire article copy and paste into a search engine.

grumpy

From the Wall Street Journal:
Doubled

The Big Dog's back

WSJ = rupert murdock = no credibility.

Contango

So when Pres. Obama, Al Gore or other progressives write an opinion piece for the WSJ it's not credible?

The Big Dog's back

It's an OPINION piece.

Contango

Re: "It's an OPINION piece."

So in Bizarro World, when Pres. Obama, Al Gore and other progressives write an "OPINION piece" for the WSJ it's not CREDIBLE.

Got it!

Google:

"A Manifesto for Sustainable Capitalism" by Al Gore

"Toward a 21st-Century Regulatory System" by Barack Obama

Both in the WSJ.

grumpy

What parts have no credibility? The part where Obama told us we could keep our doctor period? The part where Obama told us we could keep our insurance, period? The part where Obama gave employers a years exception and not the individual? The part where Obama claimed the average person would save $2500 per year on healthcare insurance? Or did the fact that Obama apoligised for doing these things make it OK in your mind? How about the fact that the administration knew all these things were lies before Obama said them, time after time in speeches while knowing they were lies, but was trying to get the bill passed and made the false claims anyway? The part where the IRS targeted political foes for tax exempt status. Those are just the statements about Obamacare, I won't even get into those about Harry and the Senate. Do you claim that what I have mentioned above are not true? Or will you be licking your hindquaters in frustration for not being able to refute what is in the article? We are waiting for your response piddle puppy.Prove YOUR credibility by refuting, with proof, what was said above about obamaScare.

Contango

Here's a 'little trick':

Google the title in order to get past the filters on WSJ.

"Tom Coburn: The Year Washington Fled Reality"

Sen. Coburn is an M.D.

FAR more credible than wanna-be Dr. Obama.

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