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Will Obamacare’s enrollment figures come crashing down?

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For the time being, enrollment in health insurance plans through exchanges established via the Affordable Care Act, A.K.A. Obamacare, is surging.

Following a disastrous roll-out of the federal (and some state) online exchanges in October, many in the administration are breathing a bit easier now as millions of Americans have stepped up to enroll.

But there are a number of underlying factors at work here that could see the undoing of any progress made thus far, and once again put one of the most controversial laws ever passed back on shaky ground, the National Journal reported Friday.

Numbers are one thing – and so far, the administration is seeing numbers of enrollees – but enrolling and then paying premiums is something quite different. And at some point this spring, the administration will have to divulge just how many enrollees have paid. Some analysts say when that happens, there will be quite a disparity between the numbers of people who have signed up and those who have ponied up their premiums.

According to anecdotal evidence provided by some insurance companies, somewhere around 20-30 percent of enrollees have not yet paid for their coverage, National Journal said.

“And in real-world impact, it doesn't mean that anyone has lost their insurance; it simply means they signed up to buy a plan that, for whatever reason, they're not going to actually buy,” the website reported.

When the actual numbers do come out, politically speaking, Republicans are more likely to benefit; the GOP has long opposed the Affordable Care Act, and based on some recent polling data, opposition to the law has risen after following its glitch-prone Oct. 1 launch. Also, Americans have been upset by a number of broken promises made by President Obama and other Democrats over the loss of plans they thought they could keep, as well as dramatic increases in premiums and deductibles for others.

Democrats seem to understand they are vulnerable. Jim Manley, a Democratic strategist and former aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, told NJ: “The White House has got to be as transparent as possible from here on out. The last thing they can afford to do is get tripped up.”

But there is no slam-dunk in politics, as the GOP has a way of overplaying its hand. And there is this: If the law, somehow, begins to click, both in terms of policy and with the public, then that advantage shifts to the Democrats.

It’s a long time until November, politically speaking.

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