Monday, March 31, 2014

6 Million ObamaCare Signups: A Meaningless Number

The last time Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the number of ObamaCare signups, it was 5 million with 25% of that being younger, 18-to-34 year-olds; a percentage far short of the 38% needed to keep the current insurance rates from skyrocketing next year but, an improvement from the 24% in the month prior.  With this latest 6 million signup announcement, the "18-to-34" count was nowhere to be found.  That only means one thing: a deterioration of the "younger" signups. Otherwise, this  "most transparent" administration in history, would be screaming that number from the mountain tops. 

Then, too, the 6 million is far short of the 7 million that HHS Secretary Sibelius said was their signup goal. Now, Obama is claiming that, in fact, they have met the goal with this lower number.  Between the modified goal and all the delays, it is like trying to play football with the goal line and goal post  constantly moving away from you.

More importantly, that 6 million number is totally meaningless without knowing some of the facts behind it.  One of the most glaring is how many people have gone the final step by paying for what they've signed up for.  For example, in Maryland, only 46% of those "enrolled" have yet to actually do this.  Until they pay, they are not insured.

Then there's the issue as to whether or not ObamaCare is making a dent in the nearly 50 million uninsured in America; a key objective of upending our health care system.  A McKinsey & Company study reviewed the signups and found that only 11% previously had no insurance.  If this is true, and after 6 months of enrollment only 660,000 have signed up, it could take up to 40 years before all the previous uninsured are covered.

We also don't know if the enrollment of women exceeds that of men.   If too many women are signed up, the advantage of men cost sharing for so many of women's "free" healthcare benefits that are mandated by ObamaCare is lost.  Unlike men, women get one free doctor visit per year.  They also get free  contraception, mammograms, cervical cancer screenings, prenatal care, maternity services, pediatric care, and so many other services.  If there aren't enough men to cover the cost, the premiums would f course, need to be increased.

Another problem with this simplistic enrollment number is that we don't know how "sick" the enrollees are.  If "sick" people primarily dominate the enrollments, then the insurers are in trouble because they won't have collected enough to cover the heavy cash outlays for a sicker group of insured.  Again, this would necessarily force premiums to skyrocket going forward.

Then, too, why would anyone believe the 6 million number when the President and his people have lied so much about the healthcare law?

Health insurance is not a single number game but, a science of many thousands of numbers. Numbers that take into consideration people's ages, sex, economic and marital status, good and bad habits, and so much more. That's why insurers have rooms full of actuaries whose full time job it is to predetermine the healthcare costs for every single person who might buy insurance from them.  But, they must also predict the proper mix of those buying insurance from them.  If they don't get it right, that company would be toast. This is why it is ridiculous for either Obama or Sibelius to declare ObamaCare a success based on a simplistic enrollment number. 


'Obamacare' reaches sign-up goal of six million:

Kathleen Sebelius: Exchange enrollment goal is 7 million by end of March:

The ObamaCare Numbers Racket:

Exchanges See Little Progress on Uninsured:

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