The Obama administration announced to much fanfare yesterday that over six million people have signed up for insurance in the federal Affordable Care Act exchange. Last year, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that seven million would get coverage by the end of the open enrollment period, which ends on March 31. Earlier this year, it revised it’s estimate down to six million. Nevertheless, it seems the administration has finally met one of its goals—and in advance of the March 31st deadline!The WSJ has more:
AltaMed Health Services Corp., a nonprofit with more than 40 clinics in southern California serving largely Hispanic patients, is operating two enrollment centers and has been running ads on radio and elsewhere. Its weekly call volume mounted to around 1,700 last week, then shot up to around 2,000 each day on Monday and Tuesday, said Cástulo de la Rocha, AltaMed’s chief executive. “The rush is huge,” he said, and he expects it to grow in the final days.…On Monday and Tuesday, HealthCare.gov processed more than 100,000 enrollments each day, said one person familiar with its performance. The site was also averaging about 40,000 simultaneous users, up from about 20,000 users two weeks ago, said the person.
So should the White House be popping the corks on their bottles of bubbly? Perhaps not quite yet. The stated goal of Obamacare was to expand access to the uninsured. The law’s success or failure, then, depends on how many of those six million were previously uninsured. The truth is, we just don’t know what the actual percentage of the six million are new enrollees. The White House itself has admitted that they’re not collecting this data in any systematic way.What little data we do have does not look very promising, however. Many of those six million may have already had insurance and lost it due to ACA plan cancellations. Until we get the data we really need, announcements like the one the administration released yesterday should be counted more as PR coup than as a useful metric for evaluating the success or failure of the ACA.