What happened today, April 1, 2014
Seven million was the original target set by the Congressional Budget Office for enrollment in taxpayer-subsidized private health insurance through new online markets created under Obama's signature legislation.
That was scaled back to 6 million after the disastrous launch of HealthCare.gov last fall. Several state-run websites also had crippling problems. Time will tell how many of the 7 million or so pay their premiums. So they've hit 7 million sign-ups, kinda.
Reason's own Peter Suderman reviews why any number coming from the administration is bound to be inexact:
The problem, as always, is that the administration's sign-up totals don't give us a firm hold on how many people have actually enrolled, because many of the people who are counted as signing up have only selected a plan using the online system; not everyone who has selected a plan has gone on to pay the first month's premium. Nor do the administration's numbers give us any sense of how many people who end up paid and covered stay that way in subsequent months.
Right now, however, our understanding of how many people who have selected a plan and then completed the enrollment process is somewhat weak. Multiple reports from January and February suggest that about 20 percent of sign-ups never submit a payment and don't end up covered.
But that's a rough approximation based on early reporting from a handful of insurers. It's not systematic. We don't know if payment rates have increased or decreased over the last month, or if people who select a plan in the final surge are more or less likely to make a payment. We don't have hard data from every insurer or state. Mostly, what we've got are solid but scattered news reports relying largely on insurance industry insiders. Reason on all things Obamacare here.
At The Washington Post, Marc Thiessen explains why 6 (or 7) million sign-ups is still a failure:
The number that matters is not how many Americans signed up for Obamacare but rather how many previously uninsured Americans signed up for Obamacare. By that standard, Obamacare may be headed for an epic failure.
Recall that between 5 million and 6 million Americans lost their health plans because of Obamacare last fall. If the administration now succeeds in signing up 5 million to 6 million previously insured Americans, it will have achieved .?.?. nothing. Breaking even is no great accomplishment. Meanwhile, Slate explains why a larger number, 9.5 million, could apply:
The Los Angeles Times reported Sunday evening that "at least 9.5 million previously uninsured people have gotten health insurance since Obamacare started," according to national surveys and reports on enrollment data. To be clear, that figure isn't just counting people who have signed up through the exchanges on healthcare.gov—rather, it's a total of the previously uninsured people who have acquired coverage through the marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act, through private insurance, or through state-by-state expansions of Medicaid. Obamacare advocates and pushers pointed to the tens of millions of Americans who were uninsured as the raison d'etre for passing health insurance reform. How many of the Obamacare sign-ups came from those tens of millions remains to be seen. For those who remain uninsured, the biggest change under Obamacare is that now they'll be fined for not having insurance.