Politics

Obama administration announces net loss of at least 3 million insurance plans

Photo of Neil Munro
Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

The White House used a Sunday morning statement to admit that only 1.1 million people have used the federal Obamacare website to sign up for the president’s healthcare network by Christmas Day.

News reports and advocacy websites say roughly 1 million people have enrolled with health-benefit companies via state websites, including 400,000 in California and 157,000 in New York, by the Dec. 24 deadline, which allows coverage starting Jan. 1.

The 2 million federal and state signups are roughly two-thirds the planned goal of 3.3 million enrollments by Dec. 31. They’re also only one-third  of the 7 million customers sought by March 31.

The total reported signups are at least 3 million fewer than the 5 million people whose health-insurance policies were  cancelled prior to Christmas by President Barack Obama’s ambitious tax-and-healthcare scheme.

The minus-3-million score is only partially offset by the extension of Medicaid coverage to perhaps 2 million other people, few of whom earn enough to afford commercial insurance.

“More than 1.1 million people enrolled in a qualified health plan via the Federally-facilitated Marketplace from October 1 to December 24, with more than 975,000 of those enrolling this month alone,” said a 6 a.m. statement from Marilyn Tavenner, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

The short statement didn’t provide critical details about the claimed sign-ups.

The plan claimed 1.1 million people have “enrolled,” but did not say what the “enrolled” term means. A person is not insured until he or she pays the first premium and receives a “welcome packet,” but the administrations and most states have kept these figures closely guarded.

In previous statements, officials have downplayed many problems with Obamacare website and have touted the number of people who merely picked plans from the Obamacare website’s online menu, not the number of people who have tried to pay for plans. So far, officials have not revealed the number of people who have been accepted as customers by the insurance companies.

The statement was also silent about the critical issue of who signed up for the plans.

If fewer young and health people sign up for the plans, then insurance companies will be stuck with a customer base of old and sick people. That skew will likely spike prices in late 2014, and likely prompt White House officials to shift billions of dollars from taxpayers to cover the financial losses by their allies in the insurance companies.

Analysts say that a low number of signups is evidence that few healthy people are enrolling alongside the sick people who need health-benefits immediately.

The statement also ignored the number of people whose plans were cancelled by Obamacare.

The cancellations were intended to force people to buy more expensive healthcare plans via the Obamacare website. The site’s plans are more expensive than pre-Obamacare plans because officials want to use the government-mandated profits from middle-class Americans to subsidize healthcare for lower-skilled people, including millions of immigrants.

Obama’s progressive allies say the plan is succeeding because enrollments accelerated as the deadline arrived, because 3.1 million younger people can stay longer on their parents’ policies, and because the 2010 law is also providing Medicaid insurance to lower-income, lower-skilled people.

However, polls shows that a majority of the public has soured on Obamacare, partly because of Obama’s deceptive promise about the law’s terns. The voters’ negative reaction has hammered Obama’s polls below 40 percent, and is creating splits between the White House and the congressional Democrats who face election races in November 2014.

The plan is also expected to undergo more traumas in the New Year as more Americans react to the increased premiums and higher deductibles caused by Obamacare, by lower access to doctors and hospitals, and threats to the privacy of their data.

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