During the initial open enrollment period, the Obama administration released monthly enrollment reports that — even if they were exasperatingly incomplete and/or doctored in what data they chose to reveal — gave us at least some sort of idea of what was going on with the president’s crowning legislative achievement. Now that the Obama administration has that alleged 8 million sing-ups number to tout, however, they evidently no longer feel the need to even keep up the pretense of releasing regular reports on the law’s progress. As Politico reports (paywall):
The Obama administration has quietly decided to halt its monthly updates on Obamacare enrollment, which were a major pipeline of information about the impact of the health law heading into the 2014 campaign season. ‘HHS issued monthly enrollment reports during the first marketplace open enrollment period in order to provide the best understanding of enrollment activities as it was taking place,’ an HHS spokeswoman emailed. ‘Now that this time period has ended, we will look at future opportunities to share information about the marketplace that is reliable and accurate over time as further analysis can be done but we do not anticipate monthly reports.’ The agency offered no information about the timing or level of detail in any future updates.
Yes, the initial open enrollment period is over, but people can still sign up for health insurance through the exchanges if they experience a qualifying “life event” (job loss, new baby, etc.). That means that the number of the ObamaCare-insured could continue to rise throughout the year, but people can also still drop their newfound health insurance at any time for any number of reasons — meaning that the number could fall, too. As Michael Cannon explains at Forbes:
I have written at some length about the huge incentives ObamaCare creates to drop one’s coverage and wait until sick to re-enroll, and how those incentives threaten the stability of the law’s health insurance Exchanges. Basically, if you drop your coverage, (1) avoiding the penalty is fairly straightforward, (2) you can get re-enroll the following January no matter how sick you get, and (3) in many cases, ObamaCare lets you enroll in coverage before January, again no matter how sick you get. If healthy enrollees become aware of and act on this perverse incentive, the Exchange pools will grow sicker, premiums will rise further, and the Exchanges could collapse.
Gaba expects enrollments to continue to rise each month. But if attrition overwhelms new enrollment, it could mean that consumers find Exchange plans too expensive relative to job-based coverage, or that the poor quality of Exchange coverage is causing people to flee, or that people are gaming the system in the above manner.
In other words, the Obama administration doesn’t really know what’s going to happen with the trajectory of the enrollment numbers — and they don’t really want us to find out, especially not before the midterms while they still have that awesome 8 million “mission accomplished” number to trumpet. I suppose we shouldn’t expect anything less from The Most Transparent Administration, Evah.