Obamacare's Website Is Working (Somewhat) Better—But It's Still Going To Have a Tough Time Hitting Its Sign-Up Goals



Funny how quickly Obamacare data leaks when it's reasonably good news. During the initial days of Obamacare's launch, federal officials repeatedly refused to provide enrollment data. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Press Secretary Jay Carney even claimed they didn't have.

Leaked notes from the administration's Obamacare "war room" later revealed that just six people made it all the way through the federal exchange system, which covers 36 states, on day one. And despite the denials from administration officials, the low number was known and discussed inside parts of the administration by the second morning the exchanges were online. Eventually we found out that during the entire month of October, just 27,000 people signed up for health insurance plans through HealthCare.gov—a figure that the administration waited until the middle of November to release.

But now that the consumer end of the federally run insurance portal is working somewhat better, sign-up data is leaking on a daily basis. In the last three days alone, some 56,000 people have picked plans through the site, including about 27,000 on Tuesday alone, according to a report in The Washington Post citing sources familiar with the numbers.

Working "better" is, of course, a pretty low bar, since the federal insurance portal was barely working at all for the month of October. But there's no question that this represents a meaningful improvement in site performance, at least on the consumer side.

Yet these numbers don't necessarily point to success for the law. For one thing, it's not certain that all of the people being counted in these tallies will actually be enrolled. As The Hill noted yesterday when the first two days of sign-up numbers leaked, these enrollees are "people who chose plans but had not necessarily paid their first premium." The (likely administration-connected) sources tipping reporters to these numbers say the administration is counting these individuals as having enrolled. But as a CNN story today points out, no one is actually enrolled without paying the first month's premium. According that story, one insurer in Indiana has recieved payment from just 20 percent of applicants. So these numbers may be overstating the true enrollment levels within the federal exchange system.

Nor does this take into account the ongoing problems with transmitting accurate enrollment information to insurers. Sources told The Washington Post earlier this week that roughly a third of enrollments were affected by these errors. Insurers say that in some cases, enrollment data isn't being transmitted at all.

Even if you assume that everyone ends up enrolled, the current trajectory probably doesn't put the administration on track to hitting its goal of enrolling seven million people in private coverage through the law by the end of March.

At an average of about 19,000 sign-ups per day, the result would be about 2.3 million enrollments in the federal system. State-run exchanges will add to that total, but not enough to get it close to the goal: California, the biggest of the states running its own exchange, is only aiming to get 500,000-700,000 individuals signed up by the end of March, and most of the other states are relatively small.

Of course, enrollment almost certainly won't proceed on an evenly distributed basis. The experience of Massachusetts with Romneycare suggests that there will probably be a significant spike in enrollment right before the individual mandate kicks in, although the enrollment numbers there are so low, relatively speaking—just over 8,000 people enrolled in the final month before the mandate kicked in—that it's hard to draw a strong conclusion about how much the Bay State's enrollment patterns will be replicated on the much larger national scale.

I would also expect that there's a (smaller) surge of activity during the early part of this month. The website is finally performing well enough to be usable for many people; December 23 is the (revised) deadline to get coverage that kicks in on January 1; and Medicare private exchanges typically experience a spike in enrollment during the week after Thanksgiving. My best guess, then, is that we'll see somewhat higher sign-up activity this month, slightly lower numbers in January and February, and a big jump in March. But since nothing on this scale has ever been tried before in the U.S., no one really knows. But the point is that the administration will need to significantly boost the average number of sign-ups in order to meet their enrollment target. 

Finally, it's worth remembering that the headline enrollment total, whatever it turns out to be, isn't the only number that matters. As the administration has indicated repeatedly, it's also important that health plans manage to sign up the right demographic mix, with enough young and healthy individuals to balance out the older and sicker beneficiaries. Already, there are signs that young adults are may spurn the law and its coverage scheme, with more than half of young adults aged 18-29 disapproving of the law, believing it will make their care more expensive, and saying they are unlikely to enroll in coverage.

The administration, meanwhile, hasn't released demographic breakdowns of people who have signed up so far, which is telling enough. Since enrollees have to provide their age and other personal information, we know that the data on the demographic composition of sign-ups so far exists. And since we also know that good news leaks, and bad news doesn't, it's probably safe to assume that whatever information the administration has isn't particularly good. 

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  1. Obamacare’s Website Is Working (Somewhat) Better?But It’s Still Going To Have a Tough Time Hitting Its Sign-Up Goals

    Now try to explain that without the racism.

    1. And he can get rid of the mansplaining while he is at it.

    2. It works perfectly!

      1. It also apparently has a perfect lack of security.

        1. Web security is racist.

          1. A veritable black box.

          2. What is security in this context? It’s not personal security, as there’s no realistic way you’ll be physically injured by the lack of security. So it must be security over some sort of property right. Property is an artificial bourgeois concept that needs no protection from the enlightened. Therefore, the site is fully secure.

            1. Exactly, what are they going to do? Take away your free healthcare? Discriminate against you based on a pre-existing condition?

              You web security armchair(?) experts don’t understand, we already have laws making these things illegal, more regulations and standards would just make the system redundant and cumbersome.

  2. Heroic Soviet workers have built 56,000 traktors in the first three days of December! Comrade Obama predicts, at this expotential rate, 17 billions of traktors will roll off the assembly line by christmas.
    Hail Comrade Obama.
    Hail him!


    1. The comments to that article are a blizzard of hate and stupidity. I know the liberals who read TPM are stupid and generally crazy. But they seem more violent and angry than usual. I wonder if perhaps they are a bit worried that things are not going so well.

      1. Be careful, John. Pointing out that some people seem to have a lot of anger and speculating as to the source of that anger will cause geniuses like New Tulpa to try and eristically argue with you that you’re angry and hateful. Which you are, but just because of all the steroids you take.

        1. The same people who have spent the last 40 years telling us the personal is the political are now offended when we point out that their personal fears and insecurities drive their political views.

          1. Ha, good point, John. Just another aspect of projection.

            1. This is a great article about visiting Havana. In it, the author talks about a painting of a young girl laying in grass that hangs in the Havana art museum. It was a wildly dissident painting when it was done in the 1970s. The reason was that since it contained only a picture of a young girl and the title “All You Need is Love” the painting lacked all political context. To the communist authorities anything that didn’t have political content furthering the revolution was subversive. But since it didn’t say anything against the revolution, they couldn’t have it destroyed. But they hated it anyway.

              That is the world these people live in. Every single thing is an expression of politics. What a living hell.


              1. Well, as long as they’re going to try and drag us into it, I hope they are as miserable as possible in their personal hell.

                1. That is what I hate the most about them Episiarch. It is not that I disagree with them. I disagree with most people about a lot of things. It is that every thing in their life must be about politics. They ruin anything they touch by subverting it into some kind of vehicle for their politics. You can’t go to a ball game or a concert or day at the park without it being about politics if those assholes are involved.

      2. We know you prefer to get your news from wingnut.com, John.

        1. CHRISTFAG!!

          Brooks compared reading your comments here as entertaining in the same way as watching the chimps at the zoo shock soccer moms with their constant self abuse and shit throwing.

          I don’t always agree with Brooks. But damn sometimes he really nails it.

          1. I only wish shreeky were that entertaining.

    2. Comrade Obama vows to press on with this Great Leap In the Right Direction. He calls upon the heroic American proletariat to ignore the Fifth Columnists, wreckers, hoarders, and Kulaks who are spread lies about the security of the People’s Healthcare Exchange and the economic consequences of next year’s crackdown on bourgeois businesses that continue to deny the worker his right to a solid living wage and guaranteed benefits.

      1. Obamaism is Democrat power plus the healthification of the country!

    3. when i first got into health policy about 10 years ago the number of uninsured was estimated to be about 40 million. so after all that time .. the hearings and briefings and white papers, there was an actual change in law … and they’ve managed to enroll fewer than 100,000.

      1. Okay NOVA. You do health policy. What do you say, more people insured on October 1, 2014 or more people insured on October 1, 2013?

        If it is the latter, how will the media spin that. Am I remembering correctly that “insuring the uninsured” was kind of a big reason why Obama claimed we had to pass this law?

        1. i’ll take it backwards.

          there will be more people uninsured after a year of ACA than had we done nothing.

          1. and i think that because of those employers on the margin.

            my law firm is not going to dump people onto the exchange. but my dad’s trade association here in DC might. and not everyone will pick up coverage on the exchanges.

            1. I think the number of uninsured is going to be much higher. The media will do everything they can to hide that. But I think even the stupid party will be able to make that point. And even if they don’t, the country will know it through experience.

              1. the only reason i’d hesitate to say much higher is the medicaid expansion.

            2. If nothing changes in the law I’ll drop coverage when my current policy runs out in April. I’ll pay the one time fine. I will not overpay by many times for shitty coverage.

      2. That 40 million had to include a large percentage of people who elected not to have insurance, mostly kids. I didn’t want to pay premiums while I was in law school, but I somehow doubt that’s a statistic they want to bandy about, despite their using of a poor law student to complain about birth control.

        1. I’m sure it did. Nearly any young person without employer insurance could buy insurance for $80 a month if they wanted to. The only exceptions were young people with bad health or who lived in states that had ruined their insurance markets (e.g. NY). Huge numbers decided not to do buy because they had better things to do with their $80. There’s no reason to think that they are suddenly going to change their minds now that the plans cost $150 a month and they’ll pay a penalty of a couple hundred bucks a year or less.

          1. But they couldn’t afford insurance before at $80 a month. Now that it’s been brought down to $160 a month it’s affordable. Can’t you do math?

    4. Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for Obama.

  3. Can we repeal this law now? Thanks.

    1. A message from the TPM comentariot.

      3 Minutes Ago
      The GOP has already lost. We will never go back to pre-2009 days thanks to Democrats. Anything the GOP comes up with would have to include the changes enacted by Democrats. Yes, you read that correctly America- Democrats.

      1. They’re friggin idiots. Passing a law, regardless of it’s actual effects, is considered winning to them.

        1. Well, that ties in perfectly with words mean everything, and actions and consequences nothing, right?

          “We passed a law! That’s words! Yay, we win!”

          1. Reminds me of the only Econometrician joke I know:

            Three econometricians go turkey hunting. The first one steps up, takes a shot, misses three feet to the left. The second steps up, says “Let me give this a try.” Shoots, misses three feet to the right. The third one says, “We got him!”

            Paragidms is one helluva drug!

            1. Paradigms!

            2. I laughed.

        2. Passing a law, regardless of it’s actual effects, is considered winning to them.

          Well, yeah.

          1. Especially if they put “a lot of work” into it.

            1. The Labor Theory of Retarded Legislation.

              1. It’s a subsection of the Labor Theory of Retardation.

                1. Which is merely a subsection of the Third Law of Retardation.

            2. It has to be for the childrens.

      2. Fuck that. If it’s not clear to the GOP, their first task when they take over, especially if they get overriding majorities in both houses, is to repeal this law. I have a long list of other things they should do, but that’s the first thing. Full repeal.

        1. I suspect if the Democrats get a bad enough beating in the midterms, the Democrats will be the ones who repeal it. Just imagine the Obamabot tears if Democrats voted with Republicans to override an Obama veto.

          1. I would laugh and laugh and laugh. What was the point of Obama again? He’s not even that black, so the purported racial breakthrough isn’t that impressive. ZERO.

            1. I have a feeling after he leaves office a lot of really unpleasant truths about him and his past are going to come out.

              I would not be surprised if the smarter leftists hope he gets assassinated. If he is dead they can just build a myth around him like they did Kennedy. But if he is alive, the sorry truth about him will be both undeniable and linger on.

              1. Yeah, I think stories about really unpleasant behavior will be legion, just based on some of the shit that’s already come out.

                1. Ooh, ooh, do tell some of this shit.

                  There has to be more than just *Uncle Omar*.

                  1. The White House is now admitting that yes Obama did live with Uncle Omar for a few weeks while he was in law school.

                    I am open to suggestions as to why Obama felt it necessary to lie about that and deny ever meeting Omar.

                    1. I’m willing to bet he didn’t remember.

                      b/c that would be noticing another person in the house who wasn’t barack obama.

                    2. He wants minimal attention paid to Uncle Omar since, having lived with Uncle for three months, people (even sycophants) will be interested to hear what Omar has to say about Barack. Omar probably has a few beans which Obama does not want accidentally spilled and wishes everyone to forget all about Uncle O.

                  2. Well, IIRC the only bit of lawyering Obama did in the real world was representing a landlord who wanted to evict his tenants so he could rebuild his building.

                    IIRC, a significant number of the tenants ended up homeless. Nothing wrong with a landlord changing what he does with his property; however, it’s fascinating that Obama would have agreed to participate in that bit of transactional law given his stated political views.

                    1. His political view, near as I can tell, is whatever is good for Obama is good for every possible plane of reality.

            2. The last few presidents were all about being the first of something:

              Clinton: First black President
              Bush: First retarded President
              Obama: First half-breed President

              I’m really hoping this next president isn’t either:

              The first obese President (since Taft!)
              The first woman President (Clinton, Warren, goddam Oprah!)

              1. I’m still predicting: Scott Walker 2016.

                1. What, the last attempt to elect a “moderate” Massachusetts Republican went so well, it can’t fail in 2016?

                  1. Screw that. Gimme Paul or Cruz or someone else who at least makes noises about limited government and free markets. No more socialism, fascism, communism, or any other statist philosophy.

                  2. Nobody who takes on and takes down the public unions is a “moderate” by my standards.

                2. The Fast and Furious guy? I think he just died in a car crash.

                  1. I lol

          2. The first task to make that happen is to get Obama’s and the Democrats’ low-information voters some information–information about just how bad O’Care is.

            Currently, his biggest support base is his dumbest voter. I see that as working in the Democrats’ favor.

            1. That is the one upshot of this being such an epic disaster. This is not Libya or Mexico. This is happening to millions of people. Everyone in America is either getting fucked by this or knows someone personally who is. For that reason even the media won’t be able to lie enough to convince people this thing was a success.

              On top of that, the low information voters always believe the simple answer. And here the simple answer is “Obama told me I could keep my doctor and my health insurance and it turned out I could keep neither”.

              People should hate Obama for being an uncaring, incompetent, immoral moron. But what they will actually end up hating him and even more so his hard core supporters who are going to continue to defend this monstrosity, is lying to them.

        2. Full repeal.

          Yup. Two sentences is all it should take. Quick and easy.

  4. Nothing’s ever going to be good enough for the Tea Partying One Percenters.

  5. Since enrollees have to provide their age and other personal information, we know that the data on the demographic composition of sign-ups so far exists.

    Now just a doggone minute, Peter! This “knowledge” presumes that information persists past the sign-up process.

    1. Yeah, I really wouldn’t go and assume anything as crazy as that.

      1. “The demographic composition of sign-ups remains to be seen.”

    2. Future democratic registered voters?

  6. refused to provide enrollment data. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Press Secretary Jay Carney even claimed they didn’t have.

    They were technically telling the truth. They didn’t have any enrollment data.

  7. You’re failing to note the fact the 4 million people’s plans were cancelled, and many (if not most) of those people will be forced to sign up through an exchange.

    So will the number of enrollments exceed the number of people’s whose plans were terminated? And if so, by how much. THAT is the number that matters.

    OF COURSE there’s going to be a surge in enrollments in December. There are hundreds of thousands of people with ongoing medical conditions whose coverage is going to expire Jan 1st.

    1. There are hundreds of thousands of people with ongoing medical conditions whose coverage is going to expire Jan 1st.

      See how bad America’s healthcare system is?

      1. What they should be saying is “sure it is horrible but we gave capitalism one last chance…” But they can’t do that because that would require admitting Obama is a failure. They are fucked. They are stuck telling the country that even though their lives are much worse because of this, things are really better.

        They can’t blame the insurance companies. If they do that, people will say “why did your plan let them do that?” When they voted this thing in they took responsibility for the entire health care system. That means they can’t say the system is a failure without admitting they and more importantly Obama is a failure. So don’t worry about them advocating for single payer. They can’t.

        They are totally fucked. They are going to have to try and convince the country that this thing is working no matter what the truth is.

        1. It would have worked if not for the wreckers, hoarders, and kulaks!

          1. WTF, the current version of that is “the GOP doesn’t have an alternative”.

            1. I have a very simple alternative.

            2. Oh yeah, I’ve heard that crap recently. How about, the status quo ante is the alternative, as it has already been demonstrated superior to ObamaCare.

              1. I’ve thought the same thing. But there is a real improvement to be made by making both insurance and medical services subject to what I like to call “market forces.”

              2. Its the law. Get over it. We can’t go back.

                What is great about that is that it is telling people who have lost their insurance to go fuck themselves the law is the law.

                The progs have spent 70 years carefully cultivating a brand that says they were the ones who cared about America. Now with Obamacare they are pissing that brand away. You watch, they are going to tell everyone who lost their insurance that is just too fucking bad.

                1. Yes, they are harming both the idea that they are compassionate, and the idea that they care more about the middle class.

                  The Republicans are starting to look more like the protectors of bourgeois middle class values again, and the Democrats are starting to look more like the party of the proletariat. They are pissing away every bit of cred that Bill Clinton bought them in the 90s.

        2. They are going to have to try and convince the country that this thing is working no matter what the truth is.

          Also, to get us caught up with the rest of the world in math, science, and reading they will award every US resident a college diploma.

          1. Why not just declare all of these things? Obamacare is a success! America is now the smartest country in the world! The economy is growing!

        3. “They are going to have to try and convince the country that this thing is working no matter what the truth is.”

          They only have to convince the 50% of the people of below median intelligence. These folks plus the true believers on the plus side of the median are enough of a majority to keep the racket going.

    2. Hundreds of thousands of children turn 27 on January 1st?

      1. That is a good point. I would imagine at least a few million people will turn 27 during 2014 and many of them will be dumped off their parents’ insurance plans and mostly likely joining the ranks of the uninsured.

        At the one year anniversary of Obamacare, I will bet good money that fewer people have health insurance than before the act. Watch the court media suddenly claim that the number of uninsured is not an important number anyway.

        1. Watch the court media suddenly claim that the number of uninsured is not an important number anyway.

          “We misspoke.”

        2. I wouldn’t be surprised at all at that.
          But even if the number of uninsured decreases, it has to decrease enough to offset the pain caused to the people whose plans were cancelled. Which means they have to re-enroll not just everyone whose plans were canceled, but at least that number again in additional new enrollments. Somehow, I don’t see them signing up 8 million people by march.

        3. I suspect they will do the same counterfactual bs they did with the stimulus and say how much worse it would have been without Ocare.


    1. Obamacare subsidy.

    2. I’m thinking someone meant to donate $500.00 and forgot a decimal.

    3. Orange You Can Believe In?

    4. Welch’s post this morning was just really, really powerful, man.

    5. Okay it dropped. For a while there the little white r was completely drowning in Tang, but now its head is above the surface.

      Won’t somebody think of the little white r’s?

      1. OH THAT’S BULLSHIT. They moved the goalpost.

        Steve Martin must have donated a shitload.

        1. They raised the bar, because excellence, and only losers (or varmint hunters) aim low. What are you, some kind of “every-special-snowflake-gets-an-award” kind of guy?

          1. I don’t give rewards. Winning the clout to punch people in the face with impunity is its own award.

  9. The website was never the main problem with Obamacare….

    1. This.

      I think it’s kind of cute how the progs think that if they get the website fixed their problems will be solved.

  10. Support should be given.

  11. The website is working (sorta). To me, that’s like saying, The trains to Auschwitz are rolling again.

    (Well, it’s actually more like saying, the Stalinist takeover/collectivization of a huge sector of society is proceeding as planned.)

  12. my neighbor’s mother makes 63 BUCKS every hour on the laptop. She has been out of work for 7 months but last month her pay check was 15302 BUCKSjust working on the laptop for a few hours. Learn More Here

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