To hear the White House tell it, you’d think that Obamacare is going swimmingly. Liberals are cheering the new Obamacare enrollment numbers that for the first time exceeded the Congressional Budget Office’s projection of 1.06 million for the month of January.
“We think that what is happening is what we thought would happen: The American people are seeing the benefits of the Affordable Care Act,” said House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD).
Hate to be the one to spoil a party, but the harsh reality is that the new Obamacare enrollment numbers are no reason to pop the champagne.
For one, even with the latest enrollment numbers, the White House and Health and Human Services are still likely to fall short of the Congressional Budget Office’s May 2013 projections of 7 million Obamacare enrollees by the end of March—projections the White House embraced until recently.
Secondly, the bulk of the Obamacare enrollees skews heavily in favor of older Americans, virtually guaranteeing high premium costs, as Heritage research has shown.
Additionally, of the 3.3 million Obamacare enrollees, it’s still unclear how many of those who signed up have actually paid their premiums. Or as The New York Times puts it, “One in five people who signed up for health insurance under the new health care law failed to pay their premiums on time and therefore did not receive coverage in January, insurance companies and industry experts say.”
This matters, of course, because the less the American people know about these important details, the easier it is for the White House to claim marginal success, especially in an election year. And in case there was any doubt that politics is a factor, the White House’s recent decision to postpone the employer mandate was widely panned as an overtly political decision to protect vulnerable Democrats in Republican states.
But more important than the political repercussions are the many failures inherent in Obamacare, depriving Americans of a patient-centered health care system.
Besides raising premiums and causing many Americans to lose their health insurance, Obamacare is causing a lack of choice—one of the inevitable results of a government-run health care system. As Heritage’s Alyene Senger has discovered, there is a gross lack of competition in the Obamacare exchanges. According to her findings, in 35 percent of the nation’s counties, exchange enrollees will have a choice of plans from only two insurers.
The Wall Street Journal has reported similar findings, quoting Dylan Roby, a program director at UCLA’s health policy research center, who describes Obamacare this way: “From a consumer’s standpoint, it’s unfair.”
Regardless of whether the White House meets its desired Obamacare enrollment numbers, every single American is getting a raw deal.