California: Another state ObamaCare success story that wasn’t

posted at 8:11 pm on January 24, 2014 by Mary Katharine Ham

On the West Coast, we have more of those reluctantly released enrollment numbers for Obamacare. The Weekly Standard‘s John McCormack weighed the numbers and found them wanting despite WonkBlog’s assertion that this constitutes success. The short story is 900,000 lost insurance because of Obamacare’s new regulations and 500,000 have signed up via the exchange. About 300,000 of those who’ve signed up would have been those who were previously insured and now eligible for subsidies, which makes the best-case scenario number for newly insured in the giant state of California…about 200,000.

McCormack explains:

But even if all or most of the 500,000 people who signed up for Obamacare by December 31 end up paying their bills, is that really a success? Leaving aside important questions about the quality and cost of Obamacare plans, the enrollment numbers are not impressive. The California exchange is doing very little to achieve the goal of insuring the uninsured.

Recall that California did not allow insurers the opportunity to re-offer plans canceled by Obamacare. Anne Gonzales of Covered California confirmed to THE WEEKLY STANDARD in a phone call that all 900,000 non-grandfathered plans in California “had to be discontinued by January 1.” So how many of the 500,000 people who signed up for Obamacare before January 1 previously had insurance? “I don’t think we have those [numbers],” Gonzales said.

But it’s easy to infer that the majority of people who signed up for Obamacare already had insurance. “Of those 900,000 [who lost plans], 310,000 of those would have been subsidy eligible if they came to the exchange,” Gonzales said. Another 20,000 subsidy-eligible Californians lost plans because their insurance carriers were dropping out of the market.

Health care industry expert Bob Laszewski points out that that means at least 330,000 of the 500,000 people who signed up for Obamacare already had health insurance. “If you want to know how many uninsured bought it, subtract by at least” 330,000, Laszewski told THE WEEKLY STANDARD. “The only place they can get the subsidy is in the exchange. So if they’re going to replace their policy, unless they’re really stupid, they’re going to replace it in the exchange.”

To paraphrase a famous and honorable character, “You keep using that word, success. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

After spending $1 billion on developing and advertising the exchange in a blue state where views about the law are more favorable than the nation as a whole, is that really a success? Does that justify a multi-trillion dollar program and the cancellation of the insurance policies of millions of Americans across the country? The good folks at Covered California and WonkBlog seem to think so. A strong majority of American voters continue to disagree.

Update: Uh oh.

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On high-speed rails to Gomorrah.

viking01 on January 24, 2014 at 8:18 PM

Does that justify a multi-trillion dollar program and the cancellation of the insurance policies of millions of Americans across the country?

Why yes, yes it does. If it saves the life of just one child or unicorn …

ShainS on January 24, 2014 at 8:25 PM

California: the Democratic Party’s golden fruit to be perpetually juiced for all that caaash and those irregular, uh, ‘voters’.

California, the siphoning fruit through which the DNC gets it’s funding washed.

Lourdes on January 24, 2014 at 8:30 PM

Does that justify a multi-trillion dollar program and the cancellation of the insurance policies of millions of Americans across the country?

Why yes, yes it does. If it saves the life of just one child or unicorn …

ShainS on January 24, 2014 at 8:25 PM

Or if it saves the legacy of just one historical, unprecedented, lightworker President . . .

tpitman on January 24, 2014 at 8:36 PM

Years ago my East Coast bottom found itself living in Southern California (unwillingly) as my first job out of college. I was told that I would someday come to love the California lifestyle.

Three decades, and having spent five years there on two separate occasions later; I am still waiting for that catharsis.

Happy Nomad on January 24, 2014 at 8:38 PM

That would be Inigo Montoya.

John the Libertarian on January 24, 2014 at 8:41 PM

But do those numbers mean Californias a whole has 400,000 less insured people? or 400,000 fewer health insurance policy holders (with even fewer insured because a policy holder frequently represents several people)? or we can’t tell because we don’t know how many of the people that lost insurance replaced it without using the exchange?

talkingpoints on January 24, 2014 at 8:43 PM

Yeah, but Moonbeam found a way to hide 22 billion in deferred payments to public union pensions, so everything is hunky dory here in Californica-covered.

Rovin on January 24, 2014 at 8:43 PM

Ed –
You mean the websites aren’t working perfectly on day one two three four five six seven eight nine ten eleven twelve thirteen fourteen fifteen sixteen seventeen eighteen nineteen twenty twenty-one twenty-two twenty-three twenty-four twenty-five twenty-six twenty-seven twenty-eight twenty-nine thirty thirty-one thirty-two thirty-three thirty-four thirty-five thirty-six thirty-seven thirty-eight thirty-nine forty forty-one forty-two forty-three forty-four forty-five forty-six forty-seven forty-eight forty-nine fifty fifty-one fifty-two fifty-three fifty-four fifty-five fifty-six fifty-seven fifty-eight fifty-nine sixty sixty-one sixty-two sixty-three sixty-four sixty-five sixty-six sixty-seven sixty-eight sixty-nine seventy seventy-one seventy-two seventy-three seventy-four seventy-five seventy-six seventy-seven seventy-eight seventy-nine eighty eighty-one eighty-two eighty-three eighty-four eighty-five eighty-six eighty-seven eighty-eight eighty-nine ninety ninety-one ninety-two ninety-three ninety-four ninety-five ninety-six ninety-seven ninety-eight ninety-nine one hundred one hundred one one hundred two one hundred three one hundred four one hundred five one hundred six one hundred seven one hundred eight one hundred nine one hundred ten one hundred eleven one hundred twelve one hundred thirteen one hundred fourteen one hundred fifteen one hundred sixteen
verbaluce on October 1, 2013 at 10:18 AM

(H/T NotCoach)

Democrats will be running on Obamacare aaaaaany day now.

There Goes the Neighborhood on January 24, 2014 at 8:58 PM

Maybe the USSA can give California to Mexico and hope it then drops into the pacific.

rottenrobbie on January 24, 2014 at 9:06 PM

Why yes, yes it does. If it saves the life of just one child or unicorn …

Of course, if just one California abortionist were gored by that selfsame unicorn—bonus! In excess of one of each saved!

But, I digress. CaliforniCare: Bad.
Watching it fail spectacularly: Good.

orangemtl on January 24, 2014 at 10:41 PM

Fear not – the Obama Administration just sent another $155 million to CA to do more marketing to Latinos. Does anyone remember the devastating effect of the sequester and how there just was not enough money to do almost anything, but we have plenty of money for Obamacare marketing, new Obamacare contracts to re-build the web site that did not work the first time around, multi-million dollar Hawaiian vacations, etc., etc., etc. Strange how that works…

tballard on January 24, 2014 at 11:45 PM

“The only place they can get the subsidy is in the exchange. So if they’re going to replace their policy, unless they’re really stupid, they’re going to replace it in the exchange.”

The reverse is also true. If you are not eligible for subsidies, and with the well-publicized security issues with the websites, you’d be crazy to use the exchange to buy a replacement for your cancelled policy.

That’s what I did. I was cancelled, looked at the exchange, found out I wouldn’t be eligible for subsidies, then went to insurance company websites to find a policy with the provider network I wanted, and bought directly from them.

HakerA on January 25, 2014 at 12:11 AM

And with articles like this one from yesterday’s (1/23) San Francisco Chronicle, it is not going to get any easier to convince people to pay for Covered California insurance plans.

Covered California clients have trouble finding doctors

Think signing up for health insurance through Covered California is hard? Some consumers say the real battle starts when it comes to finding a doctor or hospital that will take a plan purchased through the state-run health exchange.

Sue Kearney of Oakland thought she did her homework. She found the policy she thought was right for her – one from Anthem Blue Cross – and checked the plan’s directory of doctors and hospitals to make sure she could get the specialist she wanted. Assured of that, she signed up for the plan in October.

But right before a doctor appointment this month, Kearney learned the physician’s medical group will not accept any of Covered California plans.


But now that coverage has started, some people are finding it tough to determine whether their doctor or hospital will accept their coverage. Consumers say the insurer’s directory of doctors and hospitals is inaccurate or out of date. In some cases, the doctors don’t even know what to tell their patients.

In more than two-thirds of all exchange networks analyzed by McKinsey, at least 30 percent of the largest 20 local hospitals were excluded. Insurers say the move to limit the number of doctors and hospitals on a network was necessary to keep the costs of premiums low.

In California, plans offered by Blue Shield through Covered California included just 60 percent of the doctors that participate in the insurer’s group plans and just 75 percent of the hospitals. On top of that, Blue Shield is reimbursing doctors and hospitals in Covered California policies up to 30 percent less than those not in the exchange, spokesman Stephen Shivinsky said.

http://www.sfgate.com/default/article/Covered-California-clients-have-trouble-finding-5169944.php

wren on January 25, 2014 at 12:24 AM

Part of being a liberal is the ability to make yourself believe any lie you make up. Hence: disaster = success!

ghostwalker1 on January 25, 2014 at 12:26 AM

Part of being a liberal is the ability to make yourself believe any lie you make up. Hence: disaster = success!

ghostwalker1 on January 25, 2014 at 12:26 AM

Sad, but true, ghostwalker1!

I learned a new word today that you might find useful as you explain this concept to others.

obamu

(v.) To ignore inexpedient and inconvenient facts or realities, think “Yes we can, Yes we can,” and proceed with optimism using those facts as an inspiration (literally, as fuel). It is used to elicit success in a personal endeavor. One explanation holds that it is the opposite of kobamu. (which means to refuse, reject, or oppose).
Hey, why are you so down in the dumps? Obamu!
by M.KeyserSoze October 20, 2009

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=obamu

“Obamu” has been in the Urban Dictionary since 2009 and it has only become more relevant since then.

wren on January 25, 2014 at 12:49 AM

Things are not going well out here in the Golden State… this insurance kerfuffle isn’t helping…

Khun Joe on January 25, 2014 at 10:09 AM

Some unemployed Liberal (on unemployment)I met was whining about how he could get insurance in Ca for $140 a month but it would cost $320 per month in Alabama because of their meany Governor.
I wonder if the Ca insurance would actually be functional or useful.

mad scientist on January 25, 2014 at 12:37 PM

So, let’s do the real math. 900,000 people lost insurance. Of that, 330,000 purchased new insurance in the exchange. So, 570,000 people who had insurance, don’t anymore. On the flip side, we had 170,000 newly insured people enrolled. So, this law has created -400,000 insured people in California, a liberal state that supported this law. The GOP need to track this state by state and show the overall problem this has created.

djaymick on January 25, 2014 at 2:22 PM

And the great Jerry Brown, practicing Messiah tells us how great the finances of California are!

He fails to mention the gross discombobulated aspect of unfunded pensions and his pension for payola from the government unions!

Roads are downhill as is the hi speed train to brokedom!

But the stupid voters and media are happy!

Obamatrix on January 25, 2014 at 4:02 PM

Look, it’s all going to come down to how Americans vote in 2014-6. They knew Obama was lousy and voted for him anyway, again, in 2012. I can’t blame Dems for thinking they can scam stupid voters again.

BillCarson on January 25, 2014 at 5:35 PM

I live in California and saw one of those mean-faced clip-haired leftist women driving on the freeway with a “I love Obamacare” bumper sticker on her car. What alternative utopian universe do these people live in? I would have loved to be able to ask her questions to find out why.

Decoski on January 25, 2014 at 9:44 PM