Will Obamacare Hit Its Enrollment Target?

The media seems to think that Obamacare’s second open enrollment is going just swimmingly. (How could it be going worse than last year’s?)

Unfortunately, the Obama administration still isn’t counting last year’s sign-ups accurately. Jonathan Cohn of The New Republic has called the administration’s over-counting of Obamacare sign-ups “inexcusable.” And that’s from one of Obamacare’s biggest fans.

What happened is that the administration counted 400,000 dental-only plans as Obamacare plans. On November 10, it announced that 7.1 million people signed up for Obamacare as of the end of October, but that included the dental plans. The correct number is only 6.7 million. And this figure was not disclosed by the administration, but dug out by Republican congressional staffers.

The Obama administration also announced that in 2015 it expects 9.0 million to 9.9 million people to enroll in Obamacare exchanges (which it mischaracterizes as “Marketplaces”). This estimate is a dramatic scaling back of the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate of 13 million, most recently confirmed in April.

Obamacare exchanges signed up 8.1 million people during the first open enrollment, which ended last spring. The figure dropped over 1.4 million by the end of October. So, having lost over 17 percent of beneficiaries from the first open enrollment, the administration expects to add one-third (2.4 million) more people to the diminished number of current beneficiaries.

To put it another way, the Obama administration has to drag the missing 1.4 million back into Obamacare, and then go on another Million Man March to hit the bottom of its target. Wall Street analysts believe that Obamacare enrollment will beat the administration’s target.

We will see.

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For the pivotal alternative to Obamacare, please see the Independent Institute’s widely acclaimed book: Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis, by John C. Goodman.

John R. Graham is a Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute.
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