HHS falls short of pre-existing coverage prediction by … 97.8%

posted at 10:55 am on November 12, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

255 million: The number of Americans with existing health insurance coverage.

20 million: The number of Americans without any health coverage at all due to economic circumstances.

375,000: The number of Americans with pre-existing conditions HHS said would apply for coverage in the first year of ObamaCare, one of the main political arguments for its implementation.

8,011: The number that actually did.

To judge by President Obama’s rhetoric, the insurance industry’s victims have been wandering the country like Okies in “The Grapes of Wrath.” Thus ObamaCare gave the Health and Human Services Department the power to design and sell its own insurance policies. The $5 billion program started in July and runs through 2014, when ObamaCare’s broader regulations kick in.

Mr. Obama declared at the time that “uninsured Americans who’ve been locked out of the insurance market because of a pre-existing condition will now be able to enroll in a new national insurance pool where they’ll finally be able to purchase quality, affordable health care—some for the very first time in their lives.”

So far that statement accurately describes a single person in North Dakota. Literally, one person has signed up out of 647,000 state residents. Four people have enrolled in West Virginia. Things are better in Minnesota, where Mr. Obama has rescued 15 out of 5.2 million, and also in Indiana—63 people there. HHS did best among the 24.7 million Texans. Thanks to ObamaCare, 393 of them are now insured.

States had the option of designing their own pre-existing condition insurance with federal dollars in lieu of the HHS plan, and 27 chose to do so. But they haven’t had much more success. Combined federal-state enrollment is merely 8,011 nationwide as of November 1, according to HHS.

This isn’t what HHS promised in July, when it estimated it would be insuring 375,000 people by now, and as many as 400,000 more every year. HHS even warned that it would bill private carriers for any claims if HHS decided that they had cancelled coverage to dump costs on the government. That outcome would certainly be in keeping with Mr. Obama’s caricature of rampant discrimination against the sick.

That comes to a success rate for that prediction of just under 2.2%.  The Wall Street Journal points out that the program operates at a loss — which means that consumers who qualify for the program in essence have partial subsidies by entering it.  And yet, despite the billions of dollars committed to funding it and the efforts of 27 states to duplicate it, only eight thousand people have bothered to apply for the program.

The Obama administration and its allies in the Nancy Pelosi Congress revamped one-sixth of the American economy, created new federal mandates, and created chaos in system that worked for the vast majority of Americans, just to deal with eight thousand people?  Perhaps they should have tested the issue by creating the program separately first and determining whether the demand required a complete overhaul of a health-care system that mainly worked for the rest of us, instead of arrogating to themselves the task of dictating the shape of a market they clearly don’t understand.


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