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Government Math Stats Politics

Can the ObamaCare Enrollment Numbers Be Believed? 723

An anonymous reader writes "When the Obama administration announced on April 1 that an estimated 7.1 million had signed up for ObamaCare by the end of March, it seemed a nearly impossible achievement. To reach 7.1 million, sign-ups had to rocket up by 67% in just one month. That's astounding enough, but an IBD review of existing ObamaCare enrollment data shows that the mathematical challenge of reaching 7.1 million sign-ups was even tougher."
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Can the ObamaCare Enrollment Numbers Be Believed?

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  • by Connie_Lingus ( 317691 ) on Thursday April 10, 2014 @02:34PM (#46716707) Homepage

    ...if you like your 7.1 million sign-ups, you can keep your 7.1 million sign-ups.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 10, 2014 @02:38PM (#46716763)

    To reach the number of Christmas gifts said to be bought for Christmas, gift purchases would have had to rocket up by 67% in December alone...

    • Or the number of people who file for their Taxes....

      In short people will procrastinate.
      Out of the uninsured...
      I say about 10% would never join because they hate all things Obama.
      Then you have those who do not want to join out of principal or figure the Tax Penalty is cheaper than getting insurance.
      There is a portion who do not know about it.
      Some will over procrastinate figuring they can always come in late.
      However most would wait until the last minute.

    • by saleenS281 ( 859657 ) on Thursday April 10, 2014 @03:47PM (#46717791) Homepage
      It's shocking really. This is the first time I've heard of someone in the 18-26 age group putting something off until the last possible moment.
  • Politics as usuall (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Q-Hack! ( 37846 ) *

    Like most numbers that come out of government, it takes a bit of creative license. Both major parties have mastered this deception. The real question is... Are we better off now that this law is in place? To which I have to think, probably not.

    • by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Thursday April 10, 2014 @02:45PM (#46716881)

      for some, its about getting insurance AT ALL if you want it.

      pre-existing bullshit was one thing that needed fixing and its fixed.

      SOME discount if you are a single buyer (not group plan based) is also there. in fact, it can be lower than cobra payments.

      so, there was some benefit.

      I'm unlucky in that my cobra payment is about as bad as my pre-obamacare non-group policy. I was unemployed with single policy for a while, then went contract and had a better pkg, then went full time and had a pretty decent pkg, now I'm laid off, on cobra and its back to non-group level monthly premiums that I was doing before I had that last job.

      the insurance companies are raping us again, and using this as an excuse. nothing I'm doing has anything to do with obamacare but my rates went up a lot over the last yr or two and the 'discounts' are not really discounts that I can see.

      but still, they can't cancel you for having pre-existing stuff and they can't totally deny you, either. those were 2 major evils pre-obama.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Tumbleweed ( 3706 )

      Like most numbers that come out of government, it takes a bit of creative license. Both major parties have mastered this deception. The real question is... Are we better off now that this law is in place? To which I have to think, probably not.

      "Probably not?" You're going to have to explain that one. Maybe some people are worse off, but millions are MUCH better off by not being denied health care for pre-existing conditions, being able to stay on their parent's healthcare plans, etc.

      Granted, this IS a right-wing change to health insurance (from the previous generation of right-wingers, not the Tea Party wacko set we have now). This is a gimme to health care insurers, with no single payer, etc. It's a single step, but it's a good one until the Tea

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 10, 2014 @02:41PM (#46716793)

    I don't care how accurate the numbers are; I care about the sloppy language. What they mean is that 7.1 million people have applied for coverage through the Federally Facilitated Marketplace.

    I'm really fed up with this lazy language. It's ended up confusing millions of people who are just looking for some healthcare coverage. A lot of people seem to think that "Obamacare" is now some federal version of Medicaid, or young-people version of Medicare--a government program that pays medical expenses.
    I don't care whether the Republicrats or Democans started the confusing talk; let's all be part of stopping it.

    • by EmagGeek ( 574360 ) <(gterich) (at) (> on Thursday April 10, 2014 @02:45PM (#46716877) Journal

      It's not sloppy or lazy language. It's deceitful language.

      They know full well that there are not 7.1 million newly insured people who are previously uninsured, which is basically what Carney claimed in a press conference yesterday.

      About 5 million of those people are those who had their policies canceled, and about 2 million are previously-uninsured/uninsurable people who signed up. The number of people who have actually paid, out of these 7 million, remains a closely-guarded secret.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Bartles ( 1198017 )
      It's outright propaganda. The news took the numbers and ran with them declaring victory. Stop it with the stupid both parties do it schtick. Both parties didn't pass the ACA.
    • by tompaulco ( 629533 ) on Thursday April 10, 2014 @03:42PM (#46717707) Homepage Journal
      I'm sure a lot of those people were already insured, but their insurers dropped them due to Obamacare. That has happened to a lot of people I know. It didn't happen to me, but it was practically the same thing. My Major Medical plan went from $242 a month to $960 a month, with no notice.So I was forced to drop the plan and seek other coverage. I used their stupid webpage to shop for coverage. Turns out that is a bad idea, as their web page is so incredibly sucky that you have to put your information in multiple times, they can never verify your identity, they will ask you to scan in an ID, but there is no link on your account to do so, etc. Andnow, I am one of the $7.1 million users of their wonderful system, according to them. No, I was fine before Obamacare, and now the best I can get is a plan that costs twice as much and doesn't cover as much. I chose the absolute cheapest bronze plan I could get, which was still twice what I was paying before.
  • I expect the numbers are right, but the question is what all is included. This wouldn't be just the federal web site. They're almost certainly counting those who signed up through state exchanges. They're also going to count anyone who signed up on paper. All of that is fine, as this is a measure of the program, not of the web site.

    But does it include those who signed up for expanded Medicare? Those are people who weren't insured before, and now are thanks to the new law, but it's not what most people

    • Which would be fine if they consistently reported the numbers. The only two logical answers I can think of to support such a sudden jump. The first is people getting their taxes done and being reminded or even told for the first time about it. The second is that they were previously only reporting the federal exchange and this time around the reported the federal + state exchanges.

      It's also not at all indicative of how many people have actually been covered.

    • Expanded Medicaid. Not Medicare.

      And no, those numbers don't include that.

      What those numbers don't show is two things:

      1) how many of those people have actually PAID for their insurance. Which is what actually activates the insurance - signing up on the website does nothing but express intent.

      2) how many of those people are actually formerly uninsured. Remember those people who lost their insurance plans? Well, if they get insurance under the ACA, they're counted as part of that 7.5 million, even th

      • People who signed up in March won't even get their first bill until the end of April. It's not like employee coverage, where it gets deducted magically out of your paycheck.

        Approximately 90% of the folks who signed up by the end of 2013 actually did, in fact, make their first payment on time. The remaining 10% either cancelled policy for some reason before payment (maybe they got a new job?) or just didn't pay (being poor sucks. No tax breaks for them.)

        No reason to assume the numbers won't hold for
      • Are you sure these numbers don't include medicaid enrollees? I applied for enrollment in the exchange, was denied, and I was automatically enrolled in medicaid with no further actions on my part. I'm pretty sure I am included in that 7.1million.
        • It does not include Medicaid.

          Of the 40.7 million who were uninsured in 2013, 14.5 million gained coverage, but 5.2 million of the insured lost coverage, for a net gain in coverage of approximately 9.3 million.

          This represents a drop in the share of the population that is uninsured from 20.5 percent to 15.8 percent.
          The 9.3 million person increase in insurance is driven not only by enrollment in marketplace plans, but also by gains in employer-sponsored insurance (ESI) and Medicaid.

          Enrollment in ESI increased by 8.2 million.

          Medicaid enrollment increased by 5.9 million. New enrollees are primarily drawn from those who were uninsured in 2013, or those who had âoeotherâ forms of insurance, including Medicare, retiree health insurance, and other government plans.


  • President Obama personally signed up for health care 4 million times to pump up the numbers.

    You heard it here first, I hope. Seems like an "At Midnight" sort of joke.

  • It's California (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) <> on Thursday April 10, 2014 @02:46PM (#46716895) Homepage Journal

    California's exchange is well capable of providing a mere 7 Million registrations and was not ever having problems while the Federal site was the subject of so much news controversy.

    I am celebrating this event because This is the first time that Bruce Perens can get insurance coverage! I operate my own company and have previously only had access to insurance through my wife's employer. All of my family, my wife, my son, and I, have each individually been rejected by private insurers for what was esentially medical trivia. In my son's case, it was because he took a test they didn't like even though he passed it.

    Not everyone understands the B.S. that private insurers were permitted to put people through.

    • I am celebrating this event because This is the first time that Bruce Perens can get insurance coverage!

      Are you saying that there was no insurer in CA that would have covered any of the three of you for any plan? Because I find that very hard to believe.

      I'm not familiar with California, but every state that I've ever lived in has had a high risk pool that could not reject anybody. I'm guessing that CA also had a high risk pool, but you just didn't like the price, not that I blame you.

      • Re:It's California (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) <> on Thursday April 10, 2014 @03:17PM (#46717273) Homepage Journal

        There were two sorts of plans available: There was a company that sold a "trash plan" and sent a sales person to my home. This plan was not written to provide useful medical coverage for a catastrophic condition such as an auto accident with severe injury. Basically, it was a "feel good about being insured until you try to use it" plan which had the main purpose of producing income for a fraudster. I am very glad that such things are being prohibited now because I know there are lots of people who are not as careful readers of terms as I am.

        The second was priced so prohibitively high that it seemed to be intended to deter the customer from purchase.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by n1ywb ( 555767 )

      Hi Bruce,

      I also have my own company, with one employee. I have been purchasing coverage on the private market for my family of 4 for about $880 / mo. Now that plan is being cancelled by my insurance company because it's not grandfathered. To purchase an equivalent plan through my state exchange is going to cost about $1200 mo. I make just enough that I don't qualify for meaningful subsidies, and being self employed my subsidy eligibility doesn't take into account my huge self employment tax burden. So I am

      • by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) <> on Thursday April 10, 2014 @03:23PM (#46717385) Homepage Journal

        Are you able to show us the terms of your plan? The reason I ask is that I was offered what turned out to be a "trash plan", and the sort of things that aren't being grandfathered are rejected because they don't meet a minimum standard of care. In my case, a catastrophic injury such as in an auto wreck would not have been covered significantly.

        The lady who famously confronted Obama on this issue had a plan that limited its payout to a few hundred dollars.

        • by ndykman ( 659315 ) on Thursday April 10, 2014 @04:00PM (#46717965)

          This. People would be surprised truly how useless many of these cheaper plans were. If you got a chronic illness or injury that had long lasting effects, you'd get some things paid for if you mounted a massive effort to get the insurance company to pay for what they are legally required to, but will try not to do by burying you and your providers in paperwork, delaying payments and pushing deadlines.

          Then, when you come up to renew, you would be given a cost you can't afford. So, you lose your plan. You can't get another one.

          Yes, insurance companies are jacking up prices, but this is panic driven. What the public will so learn is that most health care insurers can't actually pool risk, and only make money by denying care and pushing people out of the system.

          Obamacare is a clear signal: If the health care insurance can't sustain its business by keeping all of the US healthy, it will be legislated out of existence. It's not a matter of if but when and how hard it will be. The rest of world has shown us that. The US will catch up to the idea that every human has the right to health without concern for cost or it will fail.

          • by Ereth ( 194013 ) on Thursday April 10, 2014 @04:59PM (#46718705) Homepage

            To follow up on this.. I actually had an employer plan once that had a maximum annual payout of $1500. Not MY out-of-pocket maximum, the Insurers out-of-pocket maximum. I took one test for Sleep Apnea and I was done. They refused to pay for anything else the rest of the year. When I confronted my employer about it, they said "Well, it's cheap, and contractors don't tend to care about health insurance". That particular employer didn't offer any other plans. Oh, and my payment for this plan? About $1500 a year.

            Some health plans really NEEDED to be eliminated, as they were little more than fraud.

        • by n1ywb ( 555767 ) on Thursday April 10, 2014 @04:16PM (#46718195) Homepage Journal

          Old plan: []

          New Plan, closest to old plan AFAICT: []

          A big part of the difference is the cost of covering my kids. On the old plan, they were covered at a MUCH lower rate than my wife and I, only $121/mo. On the new plan it's pretty much the same for all of us, $400. To add insult to injury if I made somewhat less each year my kids would qualify for Dr. Dynasaur (VT expanded medicare for kids) which would be only $60/mo and of course my wife and I could get federal subidies for our coverage but then I couldn't pay my other bills. It's a catch 22. I'm glad somebody's getting something good out of obama care because I feel like I'm getting taken out to the woodshed. My only hope is that Vermont rolls out single payer on schedule and it sucks less.

          VT has had relatively strict health insurance laws for some time. E.g. vermont insurers cannot discriminate by prexisting conditions if the customer has had continuous coverage. If you let your coverage drop you're screwed though. Well that's changed now I suppose.

    • Re:It's California (Score:5, Insightful)

      by wile_e_wonka ( 934864 ) on Thursday April 10, 2014 @03:35PM (#46717603)

      I totally feel for you. I am lucky enough to be insured, but when I was shopping around for cheaper insurance, I also was rejected for trivial stuff. My grandmother (who is not a doctor) said to me several years ago: "I think my mother and uncle might have died from the effects of Marfan's Sydrome (which can cause aorta rupture), and I think I have some of the symptoms, so you should consider getting checked out." At my annual checkup I ran it by my doctor, and he said: "I doubt it, but there are a couple cheap tests I can do to be more sure." In the end he concluded that I do NOT have Marfan's Syndrome.

      Fast forward 2 or 3 years. I apply for insurance with a company other than my current insurer. They request permission to do a medical history check. "No problem," I think, because I've been given a clean bill of health by my doctor.

      Insurance company decision: Coverage rejected for reason--"Question of Marfans." In other words, they don't trust what my doctor said with enough confidence to risk taking me on....

      Part of the idea of Obamacare is that crap like this shouldn't happen anymore.

  • It's amazing what technical accomplishments people can achieve when they get together, concentrate, and fire crooked ass contractors who don't know what the fuck they're doing.
  • by jfengel ( 409917 ) on Thursday April 10, 2014 @02:48PM (#46716915) Homepage Journal

    There was a deadline. People put stuff off to the deadline, especially when it means it's going to cost them money.

    For comparison, this page [] has a graph of tax-related Google queries. Big shock: they spike right before deadlines in January and April. (That's a proxy for tax filings, for which I couldn't find a decent source. I suspect that tax filings are probably even more spread out, since many people get money back and would rather do it early.)

    Combined with problems that would have caused people who tried earlier to fail, it doesn't seem at all likely that numbers would go up by a factor of 2/3. If you'd told me it was an order of magnitude, I might have been surprised. IBD has a history of a negative view of the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") and so I'm not especially inclined to see their incredulity is anything other than ideology.

  • by Rakarra ( 112805 ) on Thursday April 10, 2014 @02:48PM (#46716917)

    To reach 7.1 million, sign-ups had to rocket up by 67% in just one month. That's astounding enough.

    A very very large number of people, myself included, tend to wait until the last minute to do things, especially if it's not something they particularly want to do. Especially if it's something they don't especially NEED right now, and will have to pay by the month for.

    Just ask the IRS for a graph of how many people self-file their taxes in April as opposed to Jan/Feb. At least there there is the motivation for getting a refund earlier. There may be some people who have conditions that need to be treated now, but I'm willing to bet that the list of healthier people who never got insurance is much larger.

    • March is the perfect time to file taxes. Much more leisurely. There's basically no driving forces that push people to do taxes in March. January/February is full of the habitually early filers (and those attempting to get a check in before spring break). Everyone else pretty much forgets or waits until April.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Thursday April 10, 2014 @02:48PM (#46716919) Journal
    Casual observation suggests, Republicans would find it very hard to believe and the Democrats would find it totally within the realm of possibilities. My brother is consultant for PeopleSoft benefits management module. According to him, about 10% of the employees enroll as soon as the period opens. After that spike there is a lull, and about 50% of the employees enroll in the last week (of a typical 4 week open period), and about 25% enroll on the last day. About 1 in 1000 miss the deadline and send despo emails and come up with sob stories why they missed it and beg to change their options. About 1 in 10000 realize they have missed the enrollment period only when they show up at a doctors offices and the friendly receptionist tells them, "Sorry Mrs McGillacady, the card is not going through". Based on that, I would say the profile of surging enrollment in the last few days/weeks seems to be consistent.
    • Seriously.

      From the article:

      an eye-popping 90% increase in just the last month of the six-month open enrollment period.

      That's not eye-popping at all. The enrollment numbers didn't even double in the last month. Those number are completely ho-hum, and if anything, I'd expect it to be even more skewed to the last minute.

  • Terrible article (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 10, 2014 @02:49PM (#46716927)

    Actual summary of article:
    "It seems really unlikely the enrollment numbers got met because that would have meant a lot of last minute sign-ups *shrugs*"

    "Oh and by the way even if the enrollment numbers got met, it probably doesn't count because if you haven't paid your first month's premium you don't count as an enrollment number for some reason because we said so"

  • by PseudoCoder ( 1642383 ) on Thursday April 10, 2014 @02:50PM (#46716939)

    If you play with the definition of things then you can make the numbers be whatever you want. Read a report last week that more than 1/3 of those were people that were dropped at the beginning of the year (which means there's very little real gain in number of people insured), and 1/4 hadn't actually paid. So the number is just a topical headline that they feed the media so they can pat their backs, but breaks down under serious scrutiny. Like "we've deported more illegal immigrants than the previous administration". Truth is they changed the definition of "deported" to count people who were stopped at the border and turned around, which had never been counted as a deportation before. Meanwhile the Border Patrolman's union is complaining that the administration and DHS/ICE are making their job nearly impossible, but the media won't cover them, and they actually kicked the leader of the union out of congressional hearings.

    But they're the most transparent EVER!

  • Sure, you can believe them that 7.5 million have enrolled. It comes down to how you define 'enrolled', which the government defines as "someone put an insurance choice in their electronic kart." That would be like CDW saying they sold 100,000 LaserJet printers, just because someone placed one into their basket. The reality is that that majority of the insurance plans placed into the insurance basket was never completed. And of those that did complete the process, many never paid their first premium, whi

  • In the first year of Obamacare we will still have more uninsured than in the last year of the Bush administration

    7.1 million sign ups out of over 300 million people for a "mandatory" participation program is truly pathetic regardless whether it is above or below what was expected. Yes yes, I know the number of uninsured was closer to 60 million, so basically you are getting adoption among the intended uninsured population of just 12%. Just 12% of uninsured people are choosing Obamacare/ACA, that is what is

    • 7.1 million sign ups out of over 300 million people for a "mandatory" participation program is truly pathetic regardless whether it is above or below what was expected.

      Are you sure that's the right comparison? There are over 300 million people in the US, but you only have to apply for "Obamacare" if you don't have employer-provided health care, you aren't covered by your parents, you aren't qualified to draw on Medicare or Medicaid, and your obligation is waived for religious or moral reasons. This remain

    • I don't know which numbers include children/dependents and which ones don't. That is an important bit of information. If the 60 million is individuals and the 7.1 million is plans, which is how it reads then the total coverage could be significantly higher. If it's the other way around then it is significantly worse.
    • by romanval ( 556418 ) on Thursday April 10, 2014 @03:15PM (#46717235)

      Um.. most of US population is already covered though their employers/family plan. They're talking about the 40 million or so Americans who cannot get affordable coverage due to preexisting conditions, income restraints, and the like.

    • by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Thursday April 10, 2014 @04:02PM (#46717983) Homepage
      You my good sir had an opinion to start with and ignored all facts that disproved your opinion.

      Fact 1) 7.1 million were the number that signed up using exchange. NOT all the people that got insurance, just the number that signed up.

      Fact 2) It did not include the people that were told they were approved for Medicaid.

      Fact 3) It did not include the people that picked their own insurance not on the exchanges.

      Fact 4)It did not included the young people now signed up on their parents plans.

      You need to compare apples to apples. That is, 60 million without insurance before hand vs ??? million without insurance after hand. Trying to do 7.1/60 just demonstrates your complete inability to do honest math.

    • by sribe ( 304414 ) on Thursday April 10, 2014 @05:13PM (#46718873)

      In the first year of Obamacare we will still have more uninsured than in the last year of the Bush administration

      Bullshit. Best estimate I've seen [] is that right now, today, the number of uninsured has been decreased by about 25%.

      7.1 million sign ups out of over 300 million people for a "mandatory" participation program is truly pathetic regardless whether it is above or below what was expected. Yes yes, I know the number of uninsured was closer to 60 million, so basically you are getting adoption among the intended uninsured population of just 12%. Just 12% of uninsured people are choosing Obamacare/ACA, that is what is remarkable.

      Your comment is complete fucking nonsense. 1) Of course, as you sort of admit, out of 330 million people, there are about 300 million with some form of health insurance. 2) There were 40 million without health insurance, not 60 million. 3) In addition to whatever fraction of the 7.1 million were previously uninsured, several million more have been added by the Medicaid expansion. 4) In addition to whatever fraction of the 7.1 million were previously uninsured, several million more have been added to employer-sponsored programs.

  • Weren't something like 6 million people kicked out of their existing health plans and had to enroll in a new one?

    So 7.1 million enrollments less the 6 million who already had health plans makes 1.1 fresh enrollments. Those numbers seem right in that case.

  • Wah, wah (Score:2, Insightful)

    by MetricT ( 128876 )

    "The numbers turned out *much* higher than Fox News predicted, and I *know* that many people couldn't possibly want health insurance, because that brochure from the Heritage Foundation said so. It must be a conspiracy..."

    http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c... []

  • by mmell ( 832646 ) on Thursday April 10, 2014 @03:10PM (#46717175)

    Back in the nineties, I broke my leg while I was between jobs. I was uninsured. A US Federal Government program (Medicaid) picked up the freight, paying to get my right knee rebuilt. I'd suffered a torn lateral meniscus, a broken tibia and a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament. I'd be crippled to this day had not an already existing Federal program been there to provide medical care for low-income people such as I was then.

    Now, of course, I am required by law to buy insurance. The fact that the insurance premium is paid by a tax credit means nothing; except that now I'm at the mercy of an insurance company which feels that they are being forced to carry the burden of insuring me (I'm between jobs again - *sigh*). Incidentally, my deductable is over five thousand dollars.

    Medicaid sure helped me a lot more than Affordable Healthcare does now; but with mandatory participation, I can certainly believe the numbers being reported. What I want to know is how many of us would have chosen AHCA over Medicaid, had we been given a choice?

  • Editor posts story from anonymous troll regurgitating punditry talking points (that were refuted last week BTW) and it headlines on Slashdot. Stats only lie if you misrepresent the context: []

  • 1. A lot of late signups. - People waiting for the individual mandate being delayed.
    2. Cancelled plans. Remember "if you like your plan, you can keep it" except you can't. All those people who lost their plan were insured are now uninsured and that greatly enlarged the number of people seeking. So you can't compare before and after numbers.
    3. Some companies dropped plans entirely and let their employees get their own. My company was on the verge of doing that but elected not to at the last minute.
    4. The com

  • by steveha ( 103154 ) on Thursday April 10, 2014 @03:54PM (#46717899) Homepage

    Other important questions: how many of those 7.1 million have actually paid for the policies, and how many just went through the web site? Also, how many of these policies are insuring the previously uninsured, and how many are insuring people who lost their previous insurance due to the ACA?

    I don't have those numbers. Nobody seems to have those numbers... Kathleen Sebelius has said "we don't know that" (see YouTube link below).

    I have a suspicion that if the numbers were good, somehow they would have the numbers.

    The DailyMail article says that a RAND Corporation study estimates that the number of previously uninsured people who have actually paid for their policies is: 858,000 (well under a million!). I haven't found a source for this. I believe they computed this number themselves, by reading the RAND report and by using the percentages in that report.

    Avik Roy read the same report, and reports the number as 1.4 million +/- 0.7 million, i.e. 700,000 people to 2.1 million people, 95% confidence.

    I believe this is the RAND Corporation study being discussed: []

    References: [] [] [] []

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