Obama: 8 million signed up for health care

Enrollments exceed expectations
Associated Press
Apr 18, 2014

Eight million people have signed up for health care through new insurance exchanges and the proportion of younger applicants has increased, President Barack Obama said Thursday. The enrollments exceeded expectations and offered new hope to Democrats who are defending the law ahead of the midterm elections.

An impromptu appearance in the White House briefing room offered the president an opportunity to trumpet the new figures, which beat initial projections by 1 million. With an eye toward November, Obama castigated Republicans for continuing to seek out every opportunity to thwart the Affordable Care Act.

"This thing is working," Obama said of his signature domestic achievement.

Touting modest progress on another front, Obama said 35 percent of enrollees are under 35 years old, suggesting that in the final weeks of enrollment, the administration managed to sign up higher numbers of younger, healthier people who are critical to the law's viability.

The most coveted age group comprises those between 18 and 34 years old. White House officials said that for the 36 states where the federal government is taking the lead, 28 percent are in that age group — a step in the right direction from March, when the administration said just 25 percent were 18 to 34.

In a sharp rebuke to his political opponents, Obama called out states that have refused to embrace an expansion of Medicaid under "Obamacare," arguing that their opposition was rooted in nothing more than sheer ideology and political spite.

"That's wrong. It should stop," he said. "Those folks should be able to get health insurance like everybody else."

Although the first year's open enrollment season for the exchanges closed on March 31, the administration is still tallying the number of total enrollees. States managing their own exchanges have been slower to report data, and some Americans who started applications before the deadline were given extra time to complete their enrollment.

The demographic figures also give Democrats an opportunity to blunt the pessimism of Republicans, some of whom have accused the White House of "cooking the books" by announcing large overall enrollment numbers that tell only part of the story.

"They still can't bring themselves to admit that the Affordable Care Act is working," Obama said. "The longer we see the law benefiting millions of people, the more we see accusations that the law is hurting people being completely debunked."

Democrats have been hoping that better-than-expected results could help their candidates reclaim the political high ground on "Obamacare" before Election Day. Seven months out, Democrats are seeking to turn the page on the law's disastrous debut in October, when HealthCare.gov was virtually unusable. Obama seemed to affirm that strategy last week when he announced that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who became the face of the rollout failure, was stepping down.

Polling shows the law remains unpopular in much of the country, but Democrats plan to argue that by trying to repeal the law, Republicans are actively working to take health care away from 8 million Americans.

Although the new figures provide some clarity about how well the exchanges performed, there are still plenty of unknowns.

Officials haven't released a tally of how many enrollees were previously uninsured and are thus gaining health care thanks to the law. It's also unclear how many enrollees sealed the deal by paying their first month's premium to the insurance companies.

Republicans seized on those uncertainties to argue that Obama is hyping figures that obscure the real damage the law is inflicting — like higher premiums, smaller provider networks and canceled policies, according to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

"It's long past time for Washington Democrats to work with us to remedy the mess they created — and that means repealing this law and replacing it with real reforms that actually lower costs," McConnell said.

As Obama's health law begins to look more viable, Democrats have been seeking to change the political debate from one about repeal to one about fixing lingering issues with the law.

Obama said it's "absolutely possible" to make improvements, but that it would require a change of attitude from Republicans. But election-year posturing and the GOP's reluctance to be seen as embracing "Obamacare" make than an unlikely proposition.

The president's upbeat assessment came shortly after he and top aides had separate meetings with leading insurance executives and state insurance commissioners.

"I think that's a pretty good number in terms of trying to make sure we have a healthy pool," Montana's insurance commissioner, Monica Lindeen, said of the surge in younger enrollees.

In other positive news for Obama's health care law, California's state-run insurance exchange reported Thursday that nearly 1.4 million Californians had enrolled by the end of open enrollment, besting original projections by almost 100,000 people.

Comments

anthras

Re:"Yes, please do. Just like your Medicare is working for you."

Medicare will not be working as well as it was because Obama is stealing about 492 billion from medicare to help support Obamacare.

Talked to about 9-10 different doctors and not one of them was enthused about Obamacare.

Called and made an appointment with my Dr. and was advised to arrive very early to fill out the additional paperwork or they did suggest to stop in and get the paperwork to fill out prior to my appointment. I did talk to 1 doctor and he advised me they encouraged them to ask if there were any guns in the household however he is refusing to ask that question.

2cents

Let's see affordable, Hmmm! Our insurance went to $4000.00 per month for 4 people so we canceled it because the income would not pay for it. Makes sense, I guess we will make 8,000,005 of the public back. How did Margaret say it?

http://www.slobodaiprosperitet.t...

coasterfan

Why not tell the other half of the story? If your insurance went up that much (which I doubt), you quite obviously had a bare-bones, useless policy with little to no coverage.

The good news: if you can't afford good coverage, Obamacare provides subsidies. So, basically, an affordable solution is there for you - one with better coverage that you can afford - if you choose to use it.

I know of several people whose insurance rates went down since the ACA went into effect, and they have the same or better coverage as before. A few anecdotal examples - for either side of the debate - don't mean much, do they?

anthras

Re:"Why not tell the other half of the story? If your insurance went up that much (which I doubt), you quite obviously had a bare-bones, useless policy with little to no coverage.

Poor lady had a disease that has required four brain surgeries and has been dropped by all of her doctors and denied medications due to her Obamacare plan. I don't think it can get much more bare bones than that.

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Gov...

The Big Dog's back

right wingnut site.

anthras

Re:"right wingnut site."

Are you saying that you never provide information from a loonie left wingnut site?

Although it may be a conservative site can you prove that it is not factual?

dontknowmuch

Shhhhhhhhh..... don't that about the one who slurps up everyone from MSNBC

The Big Dog's back

It's not a Conservative site, it's a right wingnut site.

thinkagain

Nice pic of Alfred E Obama, the clueless liar in chief, with that stupid grin on his face.

DBDBDB

Let's see, 40 million people without insurance before Obamacare. 10 million lost their coverage (I am one of those), 8 million signed up, this is success? Only to IDIOTS!

coasterfan

If you lost your coverage, I'm sorry to hear that. If your employer dropped your coverage, your beef should be with him, for not valuing his employees enough to offer them the coverage he should offer. If your policy was dropped because it didn't meet even the base bottom level standards that Obamacare required, then you were wasting your money on a useless policy to begin with.

Little Giant

If Obamacare is so bad...... why doesn't anybody on the right have a better solution?

Donegan

They do. Tort reform and cross state line purchasing would create more of a market and lower prices. But then again this is a handout to his campaign donors so it is a moot point.

coasterfan

Zing! Republicans had the chance to enact healthcare reform during the 8-year Bush presidency. They did not. They had their chance.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

1. Allow insurance companies to compete across state lines.
2. Tort reform (while minor) can contribute to lowering costs.
3. Focus insurance to personal/family Health Savings Accounts combined with a high-deductible plan to promote competition, price awareness, and allow policyholders to purchase emergency or even over-the-counter items (such as bandages and seeing eye dog food) at a tax advantage.
4. If/as necessary offer funds to the HSAs to ensure care can be received.
5. Encourage stronger doctor-patient relations through "concierge care" where a doctor (usually a primary physician) offers his services to a clientele for a flat yearly fee. This completely cuts out insurance companies, compels the doctor to provide quality care at lower cost, and keeps the care consistent in the pool of patience s/he serves. Something like this could, too, encourage more doctors to be a primary care physician because of the limited pool one can serve in a concierge capacity. The notion is similar to the number of hours a truck driver can safely drive. It's an artificial scarcity based on real, measurable results to encourage safety and service while allowing the doctor the freedom to practice as s/he best sees fit.
6. Ask for doctor's to post "menus" of common procedures/appointments so there is price awareness. Such menus can also offer a "cash option" that is already employed by some doctors who (for example) would rather take $20 cash for an appointment than get $25 from an insurance company for all the time, hassle, paper, and employee hours wasted in the processing of a visit. We have seen separate and lower cash options at gas stations and with a recent class action lawsuit against credit card companies, many retailers are allowed to surcharge for CC (in this case a middleman processor like an insurance agency) use over cash. Or, conversely, they price all their products on the presumption of CC payment and offer a discount when cash is used.
7. While not directly related to healthcare, schools would do their students wonders by teaching economics, accounting, and other money skills to their students to help prepare them for life in actually understanding concepts of insurance.

Each of these require very little if any government "forcing" of behavior. They empower the individual to make his/her own choices as appropriate for their specific circumstances/geography/education/etc.

There you go. There are some "right" options if you'd like to discuss them more.

Pterocarya frax...

1. Wrong: http://voices.washingtonpost.com...

2. Wrong: http://healthcare.dmagazine.com/...

3. There is some merit to HSA's and high deductible plans, if done properly.

4. I have no clue what you are trying to say.

5. "concierge care completely cuts out insurance companies"--wrong--doctors are only one small part of health care costs.

"compels the doctor to provide quality care at lower cost"--How???

"encourage more doctors to be a primary care physician because of the limited pool one can serve in a concierge capacity. The notion is similar to the number of hours a truck driver can safely drive. It's an artificial scarcity"---If you are claiming limiting the number of patients a family physician can see, and compelling her/him to provide services at lower cost, how in the world can you claim that more doctors will be primary care physicians? That makes no sense whatsoever, and "artificial scarcity" always raises costs.

6. I went and saw my primary care physician for an annual, preventative checkup yesterday. That was a $180 appointment, for which my insurance covers all but $20. I handed the office manager a $20 bill, and by the time an assistant had weighed me and checked my blood pressure, the office manager probably had the bill submitted to my insurer which will have sent an electronic check for $160 within 10 days. I don't know any doctor's office that will accept even $40 for that appointment to pay 2 assistants and the physician, rent, utilities, overhead, malpractice insurance, etc.

7. As my dear friend Contango would say: off topic.

The Big Dog's back

Good work.

anthras

I do not think the article from the Washington Post would apply.

State Farm Insurance sells auto insurance across the country and states do have different requirements for casualty insurance. Some states have no fault insurance and others don't. The limits of liability are also different as well of many fine print items.

State Farm or any other casualty insurance company that sells across the state lines would just write their coverage to comply with the requirements of each state. Can anyone show a reason that health providers could not do the same?

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

I will gladly have your hand in this dance, madame! I appreciate your response. Allow me to do the honor of taking the lead again before passing it back. And a one, and a two, and a...

1. Using a source that itself claims is neutral and I presume we can agree on (http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/...) 'The Republican proposal is a serious, honest concept that is worth doing, if you don't promise the moon,' said AEI’s Miller. He acknowledged that any such effort would need a framework to ensure consumer protections, solvency standards and accountability but he believes those measures would not be as restrictive as the provisions now in the federal health law.

He says that other industries that were once strictly state-based, such as banking, have worked well with interstate competition. 'It doesn't mean you're not regulated,' he said. 'You'll have better competition,' and still have safeguards."

Did you presume I wanted a completely unregulated wild west? If so take comfort in our commonality that that is not the case. The point of allowing the increased competition is to decentralize policy making as seem to be the current trend where we outsource our lives, decisions, and such to D.C.

2. You'll note where I said it would play a minor role, yes? The article you cite shows that the number of cases has gone down drastically because of it. That's great as it seems to really separate the chaff from the wheat. But if a hospital doesn't use the saved money or manpower to defray costs that's on them. If people were used to paying a certain amount before, why charge less? I guess that's pessimistic but I can see that happening. Or instead of hoarding the money and manpower saved, perhaps the hospitals used it toward charity care, community involvement, a new cancer wing, etc.? Again, here is a source perhaps you can appreciate: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gl...

3. I very much agree, similar to point one above. There is so much personal empowerment that can be had with such a system.

4. This could dovetail into what you may consider "proper" handling of HSAs. It could be a static amount deposited into the individual's account on an annual or monthly basis depending on income level similar to SSI/D. Or it could very much function like the "prebate" contained in the Fair Tax (http://www.fairtax.org/PDF/Preba...)

5. Doctors I think are a greater part of the cost of healthcare than you think as they are the ones who administer it. In a normal transaction I would go to the doctor, give him the money he asks for his services (presumably based on the cost of materials, time, with a margin of profit to use towards new hires, equipment, asset purchases, etc.) and that's that. But there are times when I don't have a lot on hand and this is where insurance companies come into the mix. They say to the doctor, "Hey buddy, we'll provide you a book of business and you will be paid by us but if you accept our terms we will only pay you what we think you should be paid." So the doctor trades greater individual payments for an average of insurance which also mitigates his risk of failure to be paid. He just gets X% less. But if a doctor (or in the aggregate all acting as a bit of a cartel) get together and increase their costs the insurance company would increase their output even though it is still a reduced percentage. And so it escalates in an ever-increasing ratchet effect that outpaces normal inflation. There are other factors involved that even you alluded to (and the tort reform impacts if only minimally), but the doctors are the ones who buy supplies, sell service, etc.

As for part two, my statement was meant to make primary care just as much a "specialty" as a cardiovascular surgeon or oncologist. I would not compel the doctor to provide services at any cost. That would be up to him/her. Overburdened doctors (not implying there is an epidemic of them) do nobody a service nor favor including themselves as well it will provide incentive based on their individual geographical region, population demographics, etc. It would allow for efficiency in care, competition, etc. I wouldn't mandate that all primary care physicians be concierge-style, but I can see where those that practice that way could be more cost efficient and effective by cutting out insurance companies and processing.

6. The monetary figure I used was an example only but as you can see relates to all the points above. It like everything else is a small portion that all add up to the total. I too had my wellness checkup (and a small bruise on my arm from the blood sample to prove it) not long ago. What if the staff and equipment wasn't needed, or needed as much, with the removal of insurance processing? What would that do to reduce costs at the office and then for you as a consumer?

As I said, all this builds up to form the "plan" that was requested in the original question. Now we have hundreds of millions of people with cash on hand to directly pay for their care in most everyday instances. And for the times they are t-boned and need a flight to Toledo? That's where the high deductible plan kicks in. I'll gladly pay the $5,000 for $500,000 worth of care and therapy after it happens. In the mean time the plans are cost effective and it is easier to pay, say, $100 for a doctor visit without the complicated forms. And if I am in poverty? Prebated HSA money or the like.

7. Contango has been rather mum lately. I hope all's alright. But in addition to me half-conceding it was a side note it was relevant enough to bring up because how many 17 year olds know what insurance is and how it works? How many know how a bank account operates? How businesses do business? When you hit 18 you are suddenly thrust into an entirely different world than I don't think many have had the opportunity to prepare for through schooling or parental influence. Amazing what one birthday makes when you can suddenly be sued into financial oblivion, go to super jail, have your voice counted in elections, or be started on a debt spiral from which you will never escape?

I figured you and I could agree that education is the greatest tool for empowerment and equalization? There are absolutely no drawbacks to teaching economics and accounting in high school to help prepare the students for life and understanding what things mean, are, how they work, etc. Else we see those that pander for their money and votes continually throw out bumper stickers to appeal to their lack of knowledge. That, not interstate insurance sales, is the true "race to the bottom".

Thank you for the dance, Pter, I look forward to following your lead now!

The Big Dog's back

Even when proven wrong you always try to justify your right wingnut talking points. At least research neutral sites.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Meanwhile where I did just that...

The Big Dog's back

Did you even read the article from Huffpo?

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Yes else I would not have included it. If you are leveling an accusation then out with it.

The Big Dog's back

0.02%. Just like I stated a month ago.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

What are you talking about? I am not connecting your answer with my answer to your question.

EDIT: If you mean impact on costs, after taking some more time to think about it, you are correct. It DOES have an impact. I was also correct in stating that it was minor. None of the above are single silver bullets. But as I explored with Pter, the money that otherwise would have gone to litigation may not be offered in direct discount of services but rather used elsewhere to provide care or build modern facilities.

OMG.LOL.WT_

I wonder how the people in Massachusetts like it. Oh, that is different. I guess it's Romneycare there.

LifeIsShort

The population is about 315 million. 8 million signed up (not paid) which is 2.5 percent of the total population. Awesome!

coasterfan

Actually, 8 million is awesome. That's 8 million people for whom we/you/I previously had to cover 100% of their healthcare costs. The ACA forces them to be responsible for at least a portion of their own healthcare costs. I thought Republicans were always whining about personal responsibility. This is exactly what Obamacare is about.

Gotta love when Republicans do a complete about face on their former platforms....

Donegan

After the millions that lost coverage from Obama you are just breaking even moron.

JMOP

How come now that the numbers are where Obama wants them to be, the White House seems to be able to produce signup figures and break down the data in real time, whereas for months when things were horrible we were told that coming up with any precise figures was simply impossible to do?

Which lie should I buy?

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