Two New Studies Raise Red Flags on Obamacare
The Fiscal Times
Barack Obama wasted little time last week declaring victory as the deadline for enrollment in Affordable Care Act exchanges expired – well, more or less, anyway. The White House celebrated as it announced that 7.1 million consumers had signed up for health insurance through the federal and state exchanges, slightly exceeding their original goals and significantly outpacing expectations after the disastrous rollout of Obamacare last October. “The debate over repealing this law is over,” President Obamatold the press on April 1. “The Affordable Care Act is here to stay.”
Last week, that sounded like wishful thinking. Two new studies released this week prove it.
Before we get to these studies, though, we should recognize why we need outside organizations to validate White House claims in the first place. The Department of Health and Human Services still has no way to quantify important data about those consumers signing up for health insurance through state and federal exchanges.
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More than six months after the initial rollout of Obamacare -- and four years after the ACA’s passage -- the systems designed by HHS still cannot determine basic and critical information about enrollments such as whether a premium payment has been made. Without a premium payment, a sign-up in the web portal does not mean coverage has been extended.
Furthermore, the systems were not designed to collect important demographic information such as pre-existing coverage, current health status, or even definite age ranges, even though the success of the Obamacare structure depends on getting previously uninsured healthy Americans locked into expensive comprehensive insurance.
Without the “young invincibles” providing new funding for risk pools that now have to cover older and less-healthy consumers under “community pricing” restrictions, premiums will escalate rapidly, forcing more consumers out of the system and triggering the dreaded “death spiral” for insurers.
Related: Obamacare’s Next Challenge: IRS Verification
In order to determine the scope of the celebration, then, we need outside surveys to give us an idea of the size and composition of the actual enrollment population in Obamacare. The first of the independent studies comes from the RAND Corporation, which studied the changes in the health insurance market between September 2013 – just before the rollout of the state exchanges – and the end of the open-enrollment period at the end of last month.
While the White House can claim credit for a net increase of 9.3 million insured and a lowered uninsured rate from 20.5 percent to 15.8 percent, the data provides a significantly different picture than that painted by President Obama and the ACA’s advocates.
First, a significant amount of this increase comes from Medicaid enrollments, not private insurance. Almost six million people enrolled in Medicaid, and earlier studies showed that a relatively small number of those came from the expansion built into the ACA; most of these would have been Medicaid-eligible prior to the reform.
Another 8.2 million more people enrolled in employer-provided health care, as 7.1 million left the “other” category and another 1.6 million left the individual insurance markets. Only 3.9 million actually enrolled in insurance plans through state or federal exchanges – not 7.1 million as claimed by Obama. That number falls far short of even the lowered expectations issued by HHS and the White House earlier this year.
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Moreover, those who did enroll through the state exchanges didn’t provide...... See more at: http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Columns/2014/04/10/Two-Studies-Raise-...