HHS: Why, no, we are not measuring the very metric ObamaCare was passed to improve
posted at 8:31 pm on March 6, 2014 by Mary Katharine Ham
Allahpundit mentioned this in his earlier post, but I just want to emphasize it.
The federal government is not even measuring the very number ObamaCare was created to bring down. How many times did we hear 47 million uninsured? How many times did we hear it was necessary to pass a huge revamp of the entire system to insure them? Later we heard the prediction for how many of those 47 million we’ll actually insure is quite underwhelming. Now, we ask: Hey, how many of the uninsured are we actually insuring?
There is no clearer dereliction of duty for this law. They created an irresponsible reform behemoth, they failed to implement it responsibly, they spent irresponsible amounts of money building a bunch of exchanges that don’t work, and now they’re not even responsible enough to bother checking how much help or damage they’ve done with the most straightforward metric available.
They don’t care about how much of your money they spend and they don’t care about figuring out if they’re helping people with that money because they might have to admit to not caring about how much of your money they spend. This is why having government tackle complicated problems can be a problem in and of itself.
There’s a lot we don’t know about how Obamacare enrollment is going. Apparently that’s also true even within the Obama administration.
Gary Cohen, the soon-to-be-former director of the main implementation office at the Health and Human Services Department, stopped by an insurance industry conference Thursday to offer an update on enrollment. The main points were familiar: People are signing up (about 4 million have picked a plan so far), and the administration is going all out to promote Obamacare over the last few weeks of the enrollment window.
But Cohen didn’t have much more to offer insurers—who need this to work just as much as the White House—on some of the biggest unknowns about the law’s progress:
How many uninsured people are signing up?
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the health care law will reduce the number of uninsured people by about 24 million over the next few years, and that about 6 million previously uninsured people will gain coverage through the law’s exchanges this year. So, is enrollment on track to meet that goal? Overall enrollment is looking pretty decent, but how many of the people who have signed up were previously uninsured?
“That’s not a data point that we are really collecting in any sort of systematic way,” Cohen told the insurance-industry crowd on Thursday when asked how many of the roughly 4 million enrollees were previously uninsured.
New York state is collecting that data, and it says about 70 percent of its enrollees were not covered before, while about 30 percent are changing their coverage rather than gaining it.
How many people signed up directly with insurers?
When HealthCare.gov was broken in October and November, HHS and insurers agreed on “direct enrollment” as a workaround—encouraging people to sign up directly with insurance companies. It’s also an option for people who are too wealthy to get a subsidy to help cover their premiums (the main benefit of using the exchanges), or who had a plan canceled and want to stick with the same carrier. Cohen was asked Thursday how many people have signed up outside the exchanges.
“I don’t think we have done anything to try to collect that sort of data,” he said.
This is the law’s purported raison detre, as we were told countless times. But they can’t even be bothered to count. It’s easier to claim you’re helping people when you refuse to collect data that might say otherwise.