I’m not sure what “on track” means given that the deadline’s now come and gone. Presumably it’s a reference to last week’s extension for people who are “in line”: All you need to do is swear that you tried to sign up before March 31st but ran into technical problems and you get extra time to complete the process. That extension was, transparently, all about giving the White House a better chance to reach seven million sign-ups — their original projection for enrollment this year — so that they can now declare “mission accomplished.” It was, like so many of O-Care’s exemptions and shifting deadlines, all about politics. Even though anyone who’s following this issue knows that a good million or more of these sign-ups are or soon will be invalid due to nonpayment of premiums or the simple fact that “sign-ups” includes some people who selected a plan on Healthcare.gov even though they didn’t actually complete the purchase.
Obama’s going to take a victory lap at 4:15 p.m. today. If he’s excited about this number, imagine how excited he’ll be when he finds out how many sign-ups are valid.
Beating expectations, President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul was on track to sign up more than 7 million Americans for health insurance on deadline day Monday, government officials told The Associated Press.
The 7 million target, thought to be out of reach by most experts, was in sight on a day that saw surging consumer interest as well as vexing computer glitches that slowed sign-ups on the HealthCare.gov website…
Seven million was the original target set by the Congressional Budget Office for enrollment in taxpayer-subsidized private health insurance through new online markets created under Obama’s signature legislation.
Not only are “sources” whispering to the media about up-to-the-minute sign-up data, an HHS spokesman reported last night that the website had received nearly five million visits on Monday alone. Which led Byron York to marvel:
Wow. At times it takes the administration forever to come up with Obamacare numbers, and now they seem to have them minute-by-minute…
— Byron York (@ByronYork) April 1, 2014
We still don’t have data about how many of the seven million were previously uninsured (CBO projected as recently as February that 13 million people formerly without insurance would gain it under O-Care, including the Medicaid expansion) or what the age mix of the various new state risk pools is. Logically, you would think the late enrollment surge would consist mainly of “young knuckleheads” who held off on signing up until the last minute because they don’t desperately need coverage. That’s good news for insurers and for fans of the law, of course, since more young adults in the pool means more healthy people being gouged to subsidize those with preexisting conditions, which in turn means premiums will rise less steeply next year. The bad news for insurers is that, per some recent estimates, young adults comprised just 25-27 percent of the overall risk pool headed into the final month of enrollment. There’d have to be a lot of twentysomethings diving in over the past four weeks to get the administration close to its target of 40 percent or so overall.
In case you missed it yesterday, by one estimate, three-quarters of new ObamaCare enrollees are paying higher premiums now than they used to — which, of course, is very much by design, no matter what The One might tell you. If you’re going to have guaranteed issue and community rating for the sick, the extra revenue to pay for their treatment has to come from somewhere. Exit question: What happens next year when roughly half of new enrollees with subsidized coverage lose their subsidies, bumping them down to Medicaid coverage or no coverage at all?