President announces enrollment numbers, changes to reverse insurance cancellations “we fumbled the rollout on this health care law”.
Following much speculation, president Obama presented the “official” Obamacare enrollment numbers on Thursday, November 15.
He said, “In the first month, nearly a million people successfully completed an application for themselves or their families. Those applications represent more than 1.5 million people. Of those 1.5 million people, 106,000 of them have successfully signed up to get covered. Another 396,000 have the ability to gain access to Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.”
So, how do these figures compare with the expected numbers? Let’s review. Just one day prior to the Thursday’s presidential address the reported figures were as follows:
- 40,000 to 50,000 participants were reported to have enrolled via www.Healthcare.gov
- less than 50,000 people have enrolled via state operated sites
Although, as expected, the president led with optimistic projections, he ultimately appears to have presented a fairly accurate projection of real enrollment numbers.
The check is in the mail. Really?
The crucial difference between the two sets of enrollment numbers presented Thursday lies in four very important words: “successfully completed an application.”
In a statement prior to the president’s address, an administration official who requested anonymity stated, “In the data that will be released this week, ‘enrollment’ will measure people who have filled out an application and selected a qualified health plan in the marketplace.”
The fact of the matter is, health insurance providers do not consider filling out an application to be the same as actually being enrolled in a healthcare plan. To be enrolled, a potential subscriber must first submit a payment. And to date, the number of persons who have done so is – you guessed it – somewhere around 100,000.
How many of the remaining 900,000 potential subscribers will be sending a check? That remains to be seen.
Un-cancelling the cancellations
As previously reported, literally hundreds of thousands of Americans have received cancellation notices from their health insurance providers since August of this year.
The following were but a few examples in this massive wave of cancellations:
- Florida Blue sent out 300,000 cancellation notices, which amounts to 80 percent of the state’s individual coverage policies.
- In California, Kaiser Permanente canceled 160,000 plans, approximately half of the population it insures in the golden state.
- In mid-September, Blue Shield of California sent 119,000 cancellation notices.
- Insurance provider Highmark, Inc., located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania plans to cancel 20 percent of its plans.
- Independence Blue Cross in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania will cancel 45 percent.
- In the state of New Jersey, nearly 800,000 insured lives will no longer be covered as of 2014.
So, what happens now? According to the president, “people who have plans that pre-date the Affordable Care Act can keep those plans if they haven’t changed. That was already in the law. That’s what’s called a grandfather clause that was included in the law. Today we’re going to extend that principle both to people whose plans have changed since the law took effect and to people who bought plans since the law took effect.
So state insurance commissioners still have the power to decide what plans can and can’t be sold in their states, but the bottom line is insurers can extend current plans that would otherwise be cancelled into 2014. And Americans whose plans have been cancelled can choose to re-enroll in the same kind of plan.
We’re also requiring insurers to extend current plans to inform their customers about two things: One, that protections — what protections these renewed plans don’t include. Number two, that the marketplace offers new options with better coverage and tax credits that might help you bring down the cost.”
Asking the hard questions
Immediately after the address, CBS’s Major Garrett, asked, “You say, while the law was being debated, if you like your plan you can keep it. You said, after the law was implemented or signed, if you like your plan you can keep it. Americans believed you, sir, when you said that to them over and over. Do you not believe, sir, the American people deserve a deeper, more transparent accountability from you as to why you said that over and over when your own statistics published in the Federal Register alerted your policy staff — and, I presume, you — to the fact that millions of Americans would in fact probably fall into the very gap you’re trying to administratively fix now?”
Obama replied, “With respect to the pledge I made that if you like your plan you can keep it, I think — you know, and I’ve said in interviews — that there is no doubt that the way I put that forward unequivocally ended up not being accurate. It was not because of my intention not to deliver on that commitment and that promise. We put a grandfather clause into the law but it was insufficient.”
What’s your opinion?
A Gallup poll released Thursday shows that disapproval of the Affordable Care Act has risen from 47 percent just a couple of weeks ago to a high of 55 percent. At the same time, Obama’s approval ratings have dropped, hovering between the high 30s and low 40s.