As the March 31st deadline to enroll into the ACA looms on, there are a flurry of reasons people could point to the lower-than-expected Obamacare enrollment numbers: the flawed rollout; website malfunctions; misinformation, just to name a few. But instead of looking for reasons why numbers are lower than expected, it just could be easier to realize that the projected enrollment numbers were doomed from the start.
As the new February numbers came out this week, enrollment numbers staggered in the short month; Last year, the Obama administration projected that 5.65 million people would be enrolled by February’s end and that 1.27 million people would be enrolled in February alone. The numbers, however, fell flat: the monthly numbers dropping from 1.1 million in January to only 943,000 at the end of February and there are only 4.2 million people currently enrolled nationwide.
The original goal by the Obama administration 2012 was to enroll 7 million members by March 31st. As the administration fumbled the rollout and only were able to enroll a little over roughly 100,000 people in the first two months, they lowered expectations to 6 million. Along with the 6 million total enrollees, the administration also had the goal of having younger, healthier women and men ages 18-32 consist of 40 percent of new total enrollees. The 40 percent benchmark was set as a way to ensure that premium rates would offset the benefits that would be paid out to older and sicker enrollees.
Were these original projections dooming the enrollment numbers from the very beginning? Some key numbers prove the answer to that question may be yes.
Here are the Obamacare numbers:
-the number of uninsured adults ages 26-64-years-old rose from 15 percent in 2010 to 19.6 percent in late 2013 (a four percent increase)
-the number of uninsured adults ages 18-26-years-old actually decreased from 28.7 percent in 2010 to 23.7 percent in late 2013 (a five percent decrease)
-employer based health coverage fell from 49.8 percent to 43.3 percent (a five percent decrease)
-and enrollment in a government health insurance plan only rose from 24.7 percent in 2010 to 26 percent in late 2013 (a little over one percent increase)
Although the rate of uninsured 18-25-year-olds has dropped since 2010, a key provision to the healthcare law may be the reason why. At the end of 2010, as high as 28 percent of 18-25-year-olds were uninsured, but in late 2013, there were only 23.7 percent of them uninsured. Those numbers would appear to be a good thing for President Obama to hang his hat on, but unfortunately, those numbers have dropped more than likely due to the provision allowing 25-year-olds to stay on their parents’ plans instead of enrolling in the private healthcare exchange. Also, whether it is due to right-wing rhetoric or misinformation about the Affordable Care Act, the number of uninsured adults ages 26-64-years-old have been rising since 2009. Therefore, a lot of people in this category are more than likely to have had their employee health insurance taken away from them (due to their insurance not being able to comply with ACA standards), but instead of signing up under Obamacare, have remained ‘broken-promised’ and ‘heels-in-the-ground’ stagnant to sign up.
As it would appear, maybe the problem with the ACA projection numbers were never adults ages 18-32-years-old, but rather with the adult uninsured workforce. Among other predictions, the all-important and original benchmark of 40 percent young adults signing up for health insurance under Obamacare was doomed from the start. “Junk” plans or not, perhaps the administration should have shifted their focus from young adults who watch Zack Galifianakis to those working adults angry about losing their originally ‘promised’ coverage.
By Ryne Vyles