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ObamaCare Clusterfuck: ObamaCare numbers continue soft, especially sign-ups of the newly insured

Because that was the ostensible whole point, right? Signing up sitting ducks people for crapified policies who never had insurance at all? The National Journal reports:

How many uninsured people are signing up?

"That's not a data point that we are really collecting in any sort of systematic way," [Gary Cohen, the soon-to-be-former director of the main implementation office at the Health and Human Services Department] told the insurance-industry crowd on Thursday when asked how many of the roughly 4 million enrollees were previously uninsured.

How many people signed up directly with insurers?

"I don't think we have done anything to try to collect that sort of data," [Cohen] said.

How many people has the Medicaid expansion covered?

The administration provides overall Medicaid enrollment numbers, but those reports don't break out who is newly eligible, who was previously eligible but not enrolled, and who was simply renewing their Medicaid coverage through the exchanges.

The Miami Herald comments:

Considering the administration's failure to initially launch a halfway decent website to enroll people, perhaps the failure to track a core goal of the program is no shock.

The entire Obama campaign was data driven and had access, through its constituency in the creative class, to the technical elite, both managers and implementers; see hagiography from Pierce (2012) and Brill (2014). If the administration is flying blind*, it's because they decided to, and none of the reasons for that are good, including the ways the administration justifies its mid-course corrections on policy. Because how do they do that without good data?

So, because we have no hard numbers on sign-ups from the natural place to collect them -- where the sign-ups are fucking done, on the Exchanges** -- we have to rely on more or less adequate proxies, like Gallup polls. Or this; I hate to quote Avik Roy, but since he's quoting a McKinsey report:

Put all those percentages together, and you get two key stats. Only 19 percent of those who have paid a premium were previously uninsured. Among those that the administration is touting as sign-ups, only 14 percent are previously uninsured enrollees: approximately 472,000 people as of February 1.

That's not a very good number. Why so low?

Here’s an important finding from McKinsey. The authors of the study—Amit Bhardwaj, Erica Coe, Jenny Cordina, and Mahi Rayasam—asked those who decided not to enroll in a plan what their reasons were for doing so. The most frequent reason—cited by 50 percent of respondents—was that “I could not afford to pay the premium.” Only 27 percent cited technical challenges; 14 percent said they couldn’t find a plan that met their needs. 21 percent said they were still deciding.

But the premium has to be relative to the (crapified) quality of the product, yes? (I'm guessing people are willing to give on their "needs," as the question has it; it's just that ObamaCare's policies are crapified below any conceivable baseline.)

Best quote from Obama ever:

"What we're also discovering is that insurance is complicated to buy."***

So "complicated" we're deliberately not counting how many people buy it.

Again: The key metric for whether ObamaCare succeeds is how many new signups there are. And the administration decided not to measure that.

NOTE * Of course, there are other metrics for ObamaCare's success besides sign-ups: Campaign contributions and jobs for the boys come to mind.

NOTE ** Here's how the administration fucked that up, if fuck up it was. St Louis Post:

Inside the Department of Health and Human Services, staff analysts who have been producing monthly enrollment updates are confronted with a major hindrance to examining the question of people's prior insurance status: the wording of the applications themselves.

The paper versions of applications, used by a small fraction of people who are signing up, contain a multiple-choice question asking whether people in a household currently have insurance. "No" is one of the boxes people can check.

But the online application, which most people use to enroll, asks whether people want to apply for coverage but does not give them a place to indicate whether they have insurance now or have had it in the past. As a result, HHS analysts have no way to assess how many of the online enrollees were uninsured in the past.

Dear Lord. Since nobody's been fired for this, I have to think failed instrumentation, for the administration, isn't a bug, but a feature. (I'm thinking of the scenario here in Bangkok at protest sites, where a sign of trouble to come is when CCTV cameras get pointed away from the action, or covered with black garbage bags. Failed instrumentation is never a good sign. )

NOTE *** Stupid Fuck probably never bought his own insurance.

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quixote's picture
Submitted by quixote on

How many uninsured now have insurance is one measure of success. But the bigger one for the few million newly insured is whether it works once they have to actually use the shiny new thing. We should be hearing about that starting some time around June (?).

I think the feeling out there "in the wild" is that they're getting insurance like their friends who have jobs that come with it. What's the discovery process going to look like? Making excuses? Insistence that everything is fine? Or...?