April 1, 2014 the day after open enrollment ended for the Affordable Care Act, we are starting to hear from the White House that the enrollments are near 7 million. 7 million is significant, because the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said that what was needed to make the program work. Of the 7 million, it is unknown how many of these have made a payment or will make a payment to actually count. Many insurance companies are saying about 20% have not made a payment. Some have said 10%. I have been in the business a long time and I would have close to 15% of my Illinois clients, on a yearly basis, have their policies cancelled for non-payment (and the premiums were less than they are now), but let’s just say 85% have or will pay. That would mean 5950000 will have successfully enrolled. That is not a bad number BUT, slow down a minute. When the CBO said they needed 7 million, that was before over 5 million Americans had their policies cancelled because they did not meet the requirements of the Law. So now did we still need 7 million or is it more like 12 million? How many of the 7 million were part of the 5 million that were cancelled?
Here is the most important question. Of these 7 million who have enrolled how many were previously uninsured? Many you have to expect were from a cancelled policy. Many you have to believe were insured, but then qualified for a subsidy so they just shifted where their insurance was coming from.
I have to believe that the goal of the ACA was not millions of privately insured people into tax payer subsidized insurance. I think the goal was to cover the uninsured.
So we keep hearing or will be hearing how many signed up for “Obamacare”. The answer I want to know is not how many have enrolled, but how many are really gaining insurance for the first time. That is how the ACA should be judged. Not by how many have enrolled.