CBS: Insurers less optimistic than WH on ObamaCare “enrollment” numbers

posted at 2:01 pm on February 13, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

The White House jumped at the latest “enrollment” figures from the ObamaCare program as proof that the program had turned the corner, and supporters followed suit. Less enthused were those who actually sell the product through the Healthcare.gov exchange. CBS News’ Sharyl Attkisson reports today that insurers are treating the figures with considerable skepticism — even if the numbers turn out to be accurate:

But the rosy portrait shatters under an alternate interpretation by insurance industry representative Robert Laszewski of Health Policy and Strategy Associates.

“They made a big deal about the age results,” said Laszewski after reviewing the HHS numbers. “But the greater challenge for them is the low number of people enrolling. There is no way you can get a good spread of risk with such a small percentage of the total eligible signing up.”

CBS News also received a guarded analysis from a source involved in implementation of the Affordable Care Act who supports Obamacare.

The source said the bump of young invincibles to 27 percent of January enrollees was “progress,” but added “they neglect to point out that they need roughly 40 percent to help achieve a balanced risk pool” necessary under a successful business model.

“3.3 million people is still a relatively small proportion of the population that ‘should be’ interested,” added the source, who is not authorized to speak on behalf of the administration and does not wish to be identified.

There is still plenty of room for skepticism, as we noted several times yesterday. But as Jay Cost demonstrates at The Weekly Standard, even the supposed momentum is mostly an artifact of selection bias:

On Wednesday, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that enrollment in the Obamacare private exchanges increased by 1,146,071 in January. In December, HHS reported 1,788,000 enrollees in the month of December. That suggests a drop-off of approximately 500,000, or 29 percent. (See the chart on page 5here for a graphical representation).

Yet this underestimates the true extent of enrollment dropoffs. The HHS reporting period for December was four weeks, beginning on 12/1 and ending on 12/28. The reporting period for January was five weeks, beginning on 12/29 and ending on 2/1. This suggests that in December, enrollments averaged 447,000 per week, compared to 229,000 in January, or a 49 percent drop-off in new enrollees.

It is clear by now that the administration will not reach the original CBO estimate of 7 million enrollees by the deadline at the end of March. The real question is: how far short will they fall? If February’s enrollment rate matches that of January, the Administration will be able to claim 916,000 more enrollees in the current reporting period, for a grand total of about 4.2 million. That is 60% of the initial CBO estimate with a month to go before the end of open enrollment. On the other hand, it is hard to tell whether matching the pace set in January is reasonable for February. Notably, Kathleen Sebelius announced on January 24 that HHS had reached 800,000 enrollees already for the month, suggesting that the rate in the final two weeks of the month was lower than the rate in the first three weeks.

I’m not convinced that the rate will remain steady. The imperative of signing up in December was obvious — millions of people got kicked out of their insurance plans by the end of the year and had to replace them. Most of that demand would have been resolved by now, which means that (a) a significant number of those booted out simply decided not to buy insurance again, and (b) what’s left to enroll will be the population of the willingly uninsured. By now, that population would have already made their decision about whether or not to remain uninsured, pay the relatively small fine, and wait until a big health issue popped up. At that point, insurers would have to cover them anyway, so why would healthy people pay premiums on plans with large deductibles that won’t benefit them in any way?

Don’t be surprised, then, to see momentum slow even further, and put the Obama administration and insurers in a very bad position regarding 2015 premiums.


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Barack Obama is a stuttering clusterf*ck of a miserable failure.

Good Lt on February 13, 2014 at 2:03 PM

Administration to Obamacare Insurance Partners: You’ve been cleared for your entry into the ACA death spiral….

Athos on February 13, 2014 at 2:08 PM

Just because they enrolled doesn’t mean they went through the payment process, which means they’re not insured.

Flora Duh on February 13, 2014 at 2:08 PM

Don’t be surprised, then, to see momentum slow even further, and put the Obama administration and insurers in a very bad position regarding 2015 premiums.

In unrelated news, the Department of Health and Human Services has released guidelines requiring health insurance companies not to release 2015 health insurance pricing until July 2105.

Insurance executives will also be required to sign statements attesting that the rate increases expected as a result of Obamacare are not related to Obamacare.

In other news, satire is dead.

HitNRun on February 13, 2014 at 2:09 PM

In unrelated news, the Department of Health and Human Services has released guidelines requiring health insurance companies not to release 2015 health insurance pricing until July 2105.

HitNRun on February 13, 2014 at 2:09 PM

That should be July 2015, though the former works just as well.

HitNRun on February 13, 2014 at 2:10 PM

Why aren’t people signing up? The 2014 premiums are already through the roof. Willingly uninsured? People don’t have that kind of money. This is a disaster, I’m surprised pitchforks and torches aren’t being sold at Lowes.

KayK2 on February 13, 2014 at 2:11 PM

2105 is better! :)

geojed on February 13, 2014 at 2:14 PM

About 6.3 million lost their insurance on 12/31/13. IF barry’s numbers are to be believed (yeah, riiight), then 3 million LESS people have insurance than on 12/31/13. Is this progress????

conservative hispanic on February 13, 2014 at 2:17 PM

It is clear by now that the administration will not reach the original CBO estimate of 7 million enrollees by the deadline at the end of March.

Heck no they won’t. Especially when the idjits scheduled 4 days of maintenance for the website to coincide with the big “National Youth Sign-Up” they’ve been pushing.

Flora Duh on February 13, 2014 at 2:17 PM

My families employer policy’s open enrollment is 1/2 way thru the year, we will get the rates in April or May, if it goes up too high, we will have to keep the kids and most likely I will have to choose not to be covered and pay the fine. (Working on that no refund thing for 2015)

The large employer my husband is with is having a “special” open enrollment right now so that the early retirees that can no longer afford it can jump ship and get the “subsidies”.

It really doesn’t matter if employers cut coverage, most rates are making it impossible to stay on your plans, they are trying to get everyone on Obamacare, which ever way works!

I will not submit.

MontanaMmmm on February 13, 2014 at 2:19 PM

+1 good Lt

Nuff said

cmsinaz on February 13, 2014 at 2:20 PM

The insurers are clearly racist…

Khun Joe on February 13, 2014 at 2:21 PM

Don’t be surprised, then, to see momentum slow even further, and put the Obama administration and insurers in a very bad position regarding 2015 premiums.

There is another important factor yet to be acknowledged. – many who sign up and make the first few payments will stop making payments as the year progresses.

“Dropouts” are common to ANY continuing payments plan and trend above the mean among the “invincibles” and those already under financial stress – like those with pre-existing medical conditions.

This disaster is JUST beginning to build up momentum.

PolAgnostic on February 13, 2014 at 2:21 PM

Don’t be surprised, then, to see momentum slow even further, and put the Obama administration and insurers in a very bad position regarding 2015 premiums.

Nothing much surprises me anymore when it comes to the corrupt animal in the White House and his equally filthy party. Mooch was wearing a 12,000 dress to a party the same week her worthless spouse was lecturing us all on income inequalities. HHS is crowing over fake numbers. And the “non-partisan” CBO is suddenly walking back the job-killing aspects of Obamacare.

There is no honesty anywhere in DC when it comes to these vile people.

Happy Nomad on February 13, 2014 at 2:24 PM

The Humana Bailout…

Humana has announced that it expects to tap into the three “risk adjustment” mechanisms provided for in Obamacare to protect insurance companies in the event of unexpectedly low enrollment and/or a risk pool skewed towards older and less healthy enrollees. Humana says it will seek between $250 and $450 million in 2014. According to Scott Gottlieb, this amounts to about 25 percent of the insurer’s expected exchange revenue.

Humana’s enrollment statistics offer a glimpse of how things are likely to work out under Obamacare, and not an encouraging one from the White House’s perspective. Most of Humana’s Obamacare customers are choosing “silver” plans, but the percentage of those opting for “platinum” plans is higher than expected. People who purchase platinum plans pay higher premiums in order to buy down their anticipated co-pays and deductibles. Presumably, they are “higher cost” customers, a worrying sign for Humana and for the viability of Obamacare.

Along similar lines, the mix of people enrolling in Humana plans skews toward older individuals. Only 20 percent of enrollees are below the age of 30, while 42 percent are aged 50-64.

This breakdown is consistent with earlier estimates put out by the Federal government, and spells trouble for Obamacare.

There ain’t enough lipstick in the world to cover this pig…

Athos on February 13, 2014 at 2:25 PM

Insurance executives will also be required to sign statements attesting that the rate increases expected as a result of Obamacare are not related to Obamacare.

HitNRun on February 13, 2014 at 2:09 PM

Fantastic!!

bfinstock79 on February 13, 2014 at 2:25 PM

Shut up and buy your crappy policy with little to no doctors in the network!

jukin3 on February 13, 2014 at 2:25 PM

The CBS cut would lead most people to think things are going well. Media effects opinion, and they aren’t even in full campaign mode yet.

The clearest indicator that media effects opinion is that the generic congressional vote is back to around D+2. I agree Rs will do well this November, but I see the point as having tipped. Reagan was a hero who delayed the decline of our great republic by decades, God bless him.

The long grey winter of Statism is coming, supported its greatest warriors, the media and the IRS. It will be cold for a long time.

ShadrachSmith on February 13, 2014 at 2:26 PM

Just because they enrolled doesn’t mean they went through the payment process, which means they’re not insured.

Flora Duh on February 13, 2014 at 2:08 PM

Or even if they did pay, it is not clear that the insurer even knows who they are. The back end of the Obamacare website has yet to be “fixed” by Accenture.

Happy Nomad on February 13, 2014 at 2:27 PM

Hey boys and girls, can you say “Death Spiral”?

GarandFan on February 13, 2014 at 2:28 PM

Single payer
Single payer
Single payer
Single payer
Single payer

bgibbs1000 on February 13, 2014 at 2:28 PM

If you want your enrollment you can keep your enrollment.

viking01 on February 13, 2014 at 2:30 PM

Basically they needed 4 million old and 3 million young for this to work.

If we are generous and get them to 5 million total and 30% young, the numbers look like this…..3.5 million old and 1.5 million young. In other words, they only reached half their needed numbers of young. And these are very generous numbers I am giving.

KMav on February 13, 2014 at 2:31 PM

March 1st, MSNBC:

In late breaking news, President Obama (Allah’s Praise be unto his sacred name) today signed an Executive Order, declaring that “Three million ACA enrollees hereby equals SEVEN million, and anyone who does not obey is an intolerant racist.”

Democratic leaders hailed Mr Obama’s Order as a ‘long overdue correction of this mathematical bias, which was perpetuated by Republican intransigence.”

orangemtl on February 13, 2014 at 2:31 PM

Nothing to see here. With the new rules being pulled out of O’s nether regions requiring that small businesses hold on to all of their potential O’care members (or go to the Federal Gulag) all will be well and the road to Venezuela will be lubed with ever more proclamations…

vnvet on February 13, 2014 at 2:32 PM

And the fun continues. Maryland is still considering dumping its exchange in favor of the federal one (MD was once smugly calling their exchange a model for the nation). And now this:

The director of Colorado’s health exchange has been placed on administrative leave after the state discovered she had been indicted for stealing from a non-profit, the Denver Post reports:

Happy Nomad on February 13, 2014 at 2:36 PM

Shut up and buy your crappy policy with little to no doctors in the network!

jukin3 on February 13, 2014 at 2:25 PM

It’s only a matter of time before the rat-eared wonder says that the reason for the low enrollment in Obamacare is because some folks want to see him fail because he’s black. As if the reason for not signing up for crappy expensive insurance is because of pigmentation.

Happy Nomad on February 13, 2014 at 2:38 PM

This is a mandate that impacts every single American. Our population is 350 million plus. I think a year and a half to get it up and running. Considering how long it will be in place, seems like a reasonable ask.

libfreeordie on February 13, 2014 at 2:39 PM

Traitors who bail the ins. companies out should all be pitchforked, politically, with zero exceptions.

Schadenfreude on February 13, 2014 at 2:39 PM

Laszewski has a strikingly similar analysis and says HHS’s reported number of 3.3 million enrollees exaggerates the true picture. He says that to calculate a more accurate number, one must subtract about 20 percent of the enrollees because they haven’t paid (and so aren’t technically insured); as well as about two-thirds of the enrollees because they were already insured prior to signing up for Obamacare.

That places the “more accurate number” at less than one million.
That’s pathetic as is team Obama.

pwrefugee on February 13, 2014 at 2:40 PM

This is a mandate that impacts every single American. Our population is 350 million plus. I think a year and a half to get it up and running. Considering how long it will be in place, seems like a reasonable ask.

libfreeordie on February 13, 2014 at 2:39 PM

They had over three years you effing moron and they couldn’t even get the website running in that time. And who the hell asked government to take over healthcare?

Happy Nomad on February 13, 2014 at 2:47 PM

O’care ain’t going anywhere in the near future. Congress just handed Hussein a blank check to bailout the insurance companies.

antipc on February 13, 2014 at 2:50 PM

We don need no steenking pipelines:

Update: Train that derailed in Vandergrift, Pa., was carrying crude oil; at least 5 cars hit building that houses specialty metals firm, authorities say – @PittsburghPG

davidk on February 13, 2014 at 2:53 PM

Our population is 350 million plus…
 
libfreeordie on February 13, 2014 at 2:39 PM

 
Math for non-science majors strikes again.
 
https://www.census.gov/popclock/

rogerb on February 13, 2014 at 2:54 PM

This is a mandate that impacts every single American negatively. Our population is 350 310 million plus. I think a year and a half 3 years to get it up and running. Considering how long it will be in place, seems like a reasonable ask it will never be anything but a net negative.

libfreeordie on February 13, 2014 at 2:39 PM

You’re welcome.

antipc on February 13, 2014 at 2:58 PM

This is bad only if you think that the goal was to actually insure the uninsured. If you understand that the ultimate goal is “single payer” and absolute control of the entire US population, this is great news.

catsandbooks on February 13, 2014 at 2:58 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 one hundred seventeen one hundred eighteen one hundred nineteen one hundred twenty one hundred twenty-one one hundred twenty-two one hundred twenty-three one hundred twenty-four one hundred twenty-five one hundred twenty-six one hundred twenty-seven one hundred twenty-eight one hundred twenty-nine one hundred thirty one hundred thirty-one one hundred thirty-two one hundred thirty-three one hundred thirty-four one hundred thirty-five one hundred thirty-six
verbaluce on October 1, 2013 at 10:18 AM

(H/T NotCoach)

Obligatory.

There Goes the Neighborhood on February 13, 2014 at 2:59 PM

Facebook adds customizable option with about 50 different terms people can use to identify their gender – @AP

GLAAD on new Facebook gender feature: ‘This new feature is a step forward in recognizing transgender people and allows them to tell their authentic story in their own words’ – via @NBCNews

davidk on February 13, 2014 at 3:01 PM

This is a mandate that impacts every single American. Our population is 350 million plus. I think a year and a half to get it up and running. Considering how long it will be in place, seems like a reasonable ask.

libfreeordie on February 13, 2014 at 2:39 PM

The EpicClusterFark was passed in March 2010 – to take effect October 1, 2013. That’s 43 months to get it up and running, and they still have been unable to do so as there have been thousands of waivers and key (Employer mandate) elements delayed for an additional 1-3 years.

To put that into perspective – it only took 44 months (December 1941 – August 1945) for the United States to mobilize over 10 million into uniform, build a massive army, navy, and air corps, as well as substantially arm / supply our allies, and defeat Germany, Japan, and Italy in World War II.

Athos on February 13, 2014 at 3:01 PM

But these Obamacare posts are about whistling past the graveyard, by next Novemeber Democrats will be openly running on the ACA. Mark my words.
libfreeordie on December 20, 2013 at 10:14 AM

Schadenfreude on February 13, 2014 at 3:12 PM

There Goes the Neighborhood on February 13, 2014 at 2:59 PM

It’s fun to mark the website woes but the real story is in the rest of the Obamacare debacle. People like libfreeordie, are happy that people are going to be killed by Obamacare.

Happy Nomad on February 13, 2014 at 3:15 PM

To put that into perspective – it only took 44 months (December 1941 – August 1945) for the United States to mobilize over 10 million into uniform, build a massive army, navy, and air corps, as well as substantially arm / supply our allies, and defeat Germany, Japan, and Italy in World War II.

Athos on February 13, 2014 at 3:01 PM

To be fair, FDR didn’t hate America the way that Obama does.

Happy Nomad on February 13, 2014 at 3:18 PM

But these Obamacare posts are about whistling past the graveyard, by next Novemeber Democrats will be openly running on the ACA. Mark my words.
libfreeordie on December 20, 2013 at 10:14 AM

Schadenfreude on February 13, 2014 at 3:12 PM

Arizona Democrat runs ad hammering Obamacare website…

Fl Dem, Joe Garcia (26th District) runs Democrat PAC ad that criticizes Obamacare

Openly running on or running away from?

If openly running on the ACA was desirable and likely, why is the Employer mandate for companies with 50-99 employees being delayed until after 2016′s election?

Athos on February 13, 2014 at 3:20 PM

(a) a significant number of those booted out simply decided not to buy insurance again,

But the tax penalty hasn’t hit yet. And this is where the law is going to make a serious comeback amongst the public. There are a lot of working class people (of all races) who love the EIC. The Obamacare tax penalty could knock millions of uninsured Americans out of contention for the EIC. People will start signing up for medicaid, the young poor especially, for whom the EIC is just about the only bonus they get a year. We know that employers certainly aren’t offering any bonuses to service level, uninsured employees. There will be an option to seek healthcare right in the TurboTax.com form and people will click to sign up for that, rather than lose out on the EIC. Mark my words.

libfreeordie on February 13, 2014 at 3:37 PM

This will all come to a head in about three or four months. When the insurance companies come screaming for a bailout due to poor numbers of enrollments, then we’ll know for sure that the numbers were cooked. The real question is, will Congress go along with the bailout, or will the Republicans finally stand for something and fight it, even if they lose? My guess is that most of the Republicans (at least the RINOs), will fold like a cheap tent. That would be a shame, since most of the country would support them in a fight against bailing out big insurance companies.

Libertyship46 on February 13, 2014 at 3:45 PM

libfreeordie on February 13, 2014 at 3:37 PM

Health insurance is not healthcare.

airupthere on February 13, 2014 at 3:50 PM

Health insurance is not healthcare.

airupthere on February 13, 2014 at 3:50 PM

No one said that it was…

libfreeordie on February 13, 2014 at 4:03 PM

It’s D.O.A and feit Obama can’t save it…

sorrowen on February 13, 2014 at 4:04 PM

There will be an option to seek healthcare right in the TurboTax.com form and people will click to sign up for that, rather than lose out on the EIC. Mark my words.
libfreeordie on February 13, 2014 at 3:37 PM

Health insurance is not healthcare.
airupthere on February 13, 2014 at 3:50 PM

No one said that it was…
libfreeordie on February 13, 2014 at 4:03 PM

airupthere on February 13, 2014 at 4:09 PM

The lie we were told as to why this pile of crap called Obamacare was necessary was due to 25-27 million Americans not having health insurance. With the 6 million, or so, who had health insurance falling victim to another Obama lie and being kicked off their plans, that number swelled to 31-33 million…and now signing up roughly 10% of that number is lauded as success. If this is the left’s idea of success, I really, really, really don’t want to be anywhere near one of their failures.

Left Coast Right Mind on February 13, 2014 at 4:12 PM

So how come I thjnk Obama’s on the whim changes will lead to yet more lawsuits and him being sued?

sorrowen on February 13, 2014 at 4:23 PM

Don’t forget the unique powers of this presidency to change laws after they leave Congress. I’d expect that March deadline will magically become a June deadline soon.

Who knew the Constitution allowed arbitrary changes in a law once it went into effect?

Fred 2 on February 13, 2014 at 4:34 PM

That’s why I think their will be lawsuits he is confusing people and someone will end up dead no doubt.

sorrowen on February 13, 2014 at 4:41 PM

This is a mandate that impacts every single American. Our population is 350 million plus. I think a year and a half to get it up and running. Considering how long it will be in place, seems like a reasonable ask.

libfreeorgan on February 13, 2014 at 2:39 PM

…counting all the illegal aliens too huh?

KOOLAID2 on February 13, 2014 at 4:57 PM

airupthere on February 13, 2014 at 4:09 PM

ROFL. When you lie all the time it becomes impossible to keep all your lies straight.

Murphy9 on February 13, 2014 at 5:03 PM

There Goes the Neighborhood on February 13, 2014 at 2:59 PM

It’s fun to mark the website woes but the real story is in the rest of the Obamacare debacle. People like libfreeordie, are happy that people are going to be killed by Obamacare.

Happy Nomad on February 13, 2014 at 3:15 PM

(1) Yes, it is fun
(2) If the websites all worked perfectly, Obamacare would still be a disaster for structural reasons
(3) Since it’s typically the libs who want to pretend the only problem is with the websites, I’ll probably continue to post about (1) for a while.

There Goes the Neighborhood on February 13, 2014 at 5:13 PM

ROFL. When you lie all the time it becomes impossible to keep all your lies straight.
Murphy9 on February 13, 2014 at 5:03 PM

The I didn’t just say what I said 26 minutes ago excuse.

airupthere on February 13, 2014 at 5:16 PM

30 or so GOP house members refuse to support ANY debt ceiling increase, which meant, regrettably, that Boehner did not have 218 votes to attach the risk corridor repeal. Without sufficient votes to pass the underlying bill, I’m still waiting from the critics as to how it’s boehner’s fault that we couldn’t attach a repeal of the risk corridor program – and force senate dems on the record.

If you don’t have 218 votes in the house, you have NOTHING.

matthew8787 on February 13, 2014 at 6:04 PM

libfreeordie on February 13, 2014 at 4:03 PM

ROFL. When you lie all the time it becomes impossible to keep all your lies straight.
 
Murphy9 on February 13, 2014 at 5:03 PM

 
The I didn’t just say what I said 26 minutes ago excuse.
 
airupthere on February 13, 2014 at 5:16 PM

 
Welcome, and my favorites are when it happens two or three sentences later in the same post.

rogerb on February 13, 2014 at 8:11 PM