Survey: Obama Admin Stays Silent On Obamacare Data, But States Are More Transparent
State-run Obamacare exchanges are releasing data on Obamacare sign-ups that the Obama administration still refuses to reveal, according to a Thursday CNBC survey.
The Obama administration issued monthly enrollment reports during the first open enrollment period, but stopped the practice in May, much to the chagrin of both liberals and conservatives. The administration has also consistently refused to release any data on how many of its sign-ups followed through with their insurers and paid for their coverage.
CNBC asked each state-run exchange and the Obama administration for several important data points on Obamacare enrollment this far and found that while 12 of 15 state-run exchanges were transparent about their stats, the federal government wouldn’t release any information.
The Department of Health and Human Services refused to give CNBC the number of HealthCare.gov sign-ups paid for their insurance; a breakdown of the number of sign-ups with each insurer working with HealthCare.gov; the number of people who signed up for coverage since the open enrollment period ended due to significant life changes; and initial premium rate proposals from insurers working on HealthCare.gov.
“HHS issued monthly enrollment reports during the first marketplace open enrollment period in order to provide the best understanding of enrollment activities as it was taking place. Now that this time period has ended, we are looking at future opportunities to share information about the marketplace that is reliable and accurate,” Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services spokesman Aaron Albright e-mailed CNBC.
“As we have previously stated, we look forward to releasing additional information later this year on those who have paid their premiums.”
Meanwhile, state exchanges are generally willing and able to make the same information public.
Ten of 15 state exchanges CNBC surveyed have released at least once how many people paid their first month’s premiums. The Obama administration, on the other hand, has held that it doesn’t have the ability to get that kind of information.
Eleven state-run exchanges have either regularly released numbers on special enrollment outside of the open enrollment period, or provided the information when asked; and 12 states have made their 2015 premium rate proposals from insurance companies public.
The Obama administration is reportedly nervous about releasing next year’s premium rates before the November midterm elections. The administration delayed the next open enrollment period from October 15 — which would have given plenty of time for further glitches to emerge before elections — to November 15, but officials will have to make premium rates in the federal exchange public in September.
Caroline Pearson, vice president at the nonpartisan consulting firm Avalere Health, confirmed to CNBC that the feds could “quickly” get the requested data from insurers, if the administration doesn’t already have it.
“There is clearly a political motivation” in keeping quiet, Pearson said. “The federal government is trying to manage the message to the best of their ability in anticipation of midterm election…there certainly has been a strategy from the administration of very tightly managing the message by not releasing the more substantive data points that people want.”
In addition to premium hikes, Pearson noted that the Obama administration likely doesn’t want to cut back at its celebration of 8 million enrollees by admitting that a significant chunk never paid for their insurance.
“They do not want to undermine the victory of 8 million by saying ’15 percent or more didn’t pay,” Pearson said.