Obamacare's Bogus Enrollment Claims

The program has failed in extending coverage to the uninsured.


U.S. Government

Despite the last-minute fiasco of the federal Obamacare website's shutting down before the Monday sign-up deadline, Barack Obama's administration is rejoicing that the program met its original enrollment target of seven million people. "No one expected us to come back from the brink … but we have," gushed White House spokesman Jay Carney.

But Americans don't seem to be sharing the administration's enthusiasm: Support for the law hit new lows last week.

So why are Americans enrolling with such a heavy heart? Namely because the Affordable Care Act has created more losers than winners.

President Bill Clinton famously predicted that Obamacare would start getting popular the day after it was signed. But an Associated Press/GfK poll last week found that support for the law has dropped 13 percentage points since 2010. Only 26 percent of Americans now say they favor it, compared with 39 percent then. Similarly, a Wall Street Journal/NBC poll a few weeks ago revealed that only 29 percent of independents support the law.

The administration blames this on misleading attacks funded by deep-pocketed conservative groups. The Washington Post's Wonkblog has accused Republicans of trying to build a "national narrative populated only with wrenching horror stories." But if Americans are buying Republican horror stories over the administration's hype, that's because those comport more with their experience.

Obamacare promised to cut the ranks of the uninsured and offer those already covered a better deal while bending the cost curve. Such rosy predictions, however, are not panning out.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected in February that the ACA would slash the nation's 48 million–strong uninsured population by 13 million. (This was scaled back from its previous projection of 19 million, as The Washington Examiner's Philip Klein notes.) But the ACA is not close to hitting even that more-modest target.

Consider how its three main mechanisms for extending coverage have fared.

First off, the exchanges: The seven million enrollment figure that the administration is bandying about is misleading. The actual number of uninsured covered by the marketplace will be much smaller. For starters, if the current trend continues, 20 percent of the seven million will drop out without paying. Out of the remaining 5.6 million, only about half were likely previously uninsured. Why? Because reliable early surveys found that a whopping 65 to 90 percent of those flocking to the exchange already had insurance. Even assuming that uninsured people were waiting until the end to sign up, it is hard to see how that figure would exceed 50 percent, given that six out of 10 uninsured people surveyed by the Kaiser Family Foundation recently didn't know about the March 31 deadline and after being told about it, half of them still planned to remain uninsured.

Second, Medicaid. The administration claims that the ACA's expansion of Medicaid has allowed four million to 4.5 million uninsured people to gain coverage. But a substantial portion of that stems from regular Medicaid growth (unrelated to Obamacare). In January, Real Clear Politics' Sean Trende estimated the number to be closer to 400,000, although he expected things to improve as the sign-up deadline approached. And last month, Avalere, a health advisory company, put the new enrollees due to Obamacare at 2.4 million to 3.5 million. (Some states are reporting higher rates of uninsured Medicaid enrollment, but it is unclear how representative or reliable they are or how many of these uninsured might have been covered even under the old eligibility criteria.)

Third, the provision that allows 26-year-olds to stay on their parents' plans. The administration claims that this provision has extended coverage to three million young people. But that's a false assumption, given that at least some portion of them are college students with university coverage or self-employed with insurance from the individual market. Forbes' Avik Roy estimates that the real figure is closer to 890,000, meaning that the administration's figure represents an over 200 percent exaggeration.

All of this adds up to less than seven million uninsured being covered by Obamacare, which means that the program fell 46 percent short of CBO's 13 million mark.

However, even that overstates the ACA's success in tackling the uninsured if you consider all the people who have lost coverage.

Among the ACA's first acts was to abolish almost five million so-called junk plans in the individual market — plans that didn't meet its standards. The administration backed off for a year after a massive outcry. But it was too late for most insurance companies to restore them. In addition, many large employers such as Target, Home Depot and Walmart have dumped coverage for tens of thousands of part-time workers.

These insurance refugees constitute at least half the people buying coverage from the Obamacare exchanges. But if they don't qualify for subsidies, they face higher out-of-pocket costs for plans that cover things they don't need and leave out things they do.

For example, the Los Angeles Times found last year that middle-income consumers in California face an estimated 30 percent rate increase in their insurance bills "due to several factors tied to the health care law." Such factors include limitless lifetime coverage and many benefits such as hair prosthetics for cancer patients that many people don't care about. But what patients do care about — their choice of doctors and hospitals — they can't get because that would further bump up premiums. (The usually excitable Ann Coulter wrote a sobering account of her difficulty in finding her choice of providers under even the most expensive Obamacare plans here.)

Nor are things likely to get better next year. That's because the mix of the new Obamacare sign-ups is so skewed toward the old and the sick that some experts are expecting premiums to double.

So, to recap: Obamacare has extended coverage to a far smaller portion of the uninsured than expected, caused millions of others to lose coverage, raised out-of-pocket costs for many middle-income consumers, diminished patient choice of doctors and hospitals and exposed Americans to future premium hikes.

This is why Americans are not popping the cork. Nor should the administration.

A version of this column originally appeared in Al Jazeera.

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  1. Drudge is saying the networks turned Obama down when he asked for time to give a speech celebrating the seven million enrolled. When even the Court media realizes this thing is a dog, it is a dog.

  2. “No one expected us to come back from the brink ? but we have,” gushed White House spokesman Jay Carney.

    He then tripped over his own feet and fell over the brink.

    1. Willie E. Obama, super genius!!

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  3. Excuse me, but I’m still waiting for a political cartoonist to portray Obama on the deck of an oily, leaky ship with a “Mission Accomplished — Seven Million Enrolled” banner behind him. Now, get to work!

    1. I’d already suggested that – except he should also don a codpiece and flightsuit like Dumbya did.

      1. Except that Bush actually was smart enough to fly an airplane. Obama, survey says not likely.

        1. Shh, John, you’ll ruin the narrative that Boosh was a dummy. Of course, we are all still waiting to see how Boosh’s college grades stacked up against Our Glorious Leaders.

          1. Bush was crafty and had a great political sense, but when it came to knowledge of the world he was a world class dummy. The motherfucker can’t even pronounce nuclear correctly.

            1. How did he do on the word “corpsman” ?

              Does he pronounce it “corpse man” like Obama?

            2. when it came to knowledge of the world he was a world class dummy

              Yet another Bush program that Obama has adopted and expanded.

            3. “Elites mocked former President Jimmy Carter?and George W. Bush long after him?when he drawled the word nuclear into a funny-sounding “nukular” and “nukeer.” That he’d served on a nuclear sub in the Navy made no difference to his critics. And neither did the fact that two other prominent Americans, former President Dwight Eisenhower and Edward Teller, the father of the H-bomb, also said “nukular.” ”


              “The Oxford English Dictionary’s entry for nucular, representing the colloquial pronunciation, dates the first published appearance of the word to 1943.”

            4. “…The motherfucker can’t even pronounce nuclear correctly.”

              You know he was… that’s how it’s said with a Texas dialect.

    2. When Obama pitched the Affordable Care Act in 2009, there were roughly 30 million uninsured. The Congressional Budget Office projects that in 10 years there will be .?.?. roughly 30 million uninsured under ObamaCare. According to Gallup, more people are uninsured today than when Obama took office. Indeed, most of ObamaCare’s alleged 7 million “enrollees” are people who lost their insurance because of ObamaCare.


      We have more people uninsured today than in 2008 and we will have just as many people uninsured in ten years as we did the day Obamacare was passed.

      The fact that they forced 7 million people by law to buy shitty overpriced health insurance on the exchanges doesn’t really put much of a bloom back on that rose.

      1. As long as they continue waxing Orwellian about chocolate rations enrollment figures, moving goalposts, and obscuring the nature of the income transferred from the relatively poor young to the relatively affluent old, we can expect in ten years to be treated to ringing proclamations about the untrammeled success of the ACA

      2. “We have more people uninsured today than in 2008 and we will have just as many people uninsured in ten years as we did the day Obamacare was passed.”

        But the population will be larger so the overall percentage of uninsured will be lower. So therefore it’s a success. Or some bullshit like that.

        1. “.. the population will be larger..”

          Not if the death pannels work as designed.

  4. I’m still not getting why 7 million is “the number”. Wasn’t the whole point of this to cover the 30+ million uninsured?

    1. We don’t talk about that.

    2. But the 7 million number is from the original CBO estimate

      1. Right, so it’s just an estimate, not a goal.

    3. Including Medicaid and the under-26 crowd the number is about 15 million and 2015 is forecast to be 27 million (will link if you like).

      1. Please do. I haven’t seen any good numbers on the total number of pre-ACA uninsured coverage under the various ACA provisions. It almost seems like the administration is hiding it.

        1. This is a CBO projection for the next four years:


          You will see it goes to 37 million in the presidential election year.

          Ripping this thing out will be near impossible.

          1. I thought you were going to provide data on the number of previously uninsured that are now insured. Not projections of how many people will get insurance through exchanges and Medicaid. Even if the projections about how many will get insurance through exchanges and Medicaid were actual data, it still wouldn’t tell use how many previously uninsured that are now insured.

            1. I am more interested in public perception and the future.

              I am already on record in saying the ACA “fixes” very little and is not a “BFD” as Biden claimed.

              1. If I had insurance in 2013, and now have ACA insurance in 2014, why am I wedded to the ACA? The only reasons I would want ACA to stick around would be if the insurance were better and/or cheaper. I’m sure that’s true for some people, but doesn’t appear to be for most. So I don’t see how the 7M figure has anything to do with whether the law can be “ripped out.”

              2. I am already on record in saying the ACA “fixes” very little

                Then why not throw your support behind repealing it and introducing true market ref?

                I am more interested in public perception and the future.

                Oh, right.

                Team loyalty.

            2. Demfag doesn’t provide data. It’s kinda his thing.

            3. I thought you were going to provide data on the number of previously uninsured that are now insured. Not projections of how many people will get insurance through exchanges and Medicaid.

              As we elucidated yesterday, shreek doesn’t actually understand the difference between projections (analysis) and the data that underlie them. Hence, projections from the same CBO that missed the initial number by a good 50% are “empirical data”, and beyond any questioning.

          2. I’ll settle for neutering it with a few decisive snips.

            1. I’d prefer to ‘neuter’ it with a Claymore Mine…

            2. Most “reasoned” people would settle for calling it by a different name but keeping most benefits the same. Of course, chances are that would cost more….but who cares when it could be renamed “JindalCare” or SantorumLube, etc.

          3. Lol. The same CBO that missed its projection on the initial number of sign ups by 6 million. Heckuva job, shreeeeky.

          4. Do those projections take the death spiral into account?

          5. “Ripping this thing out will be near impossible.”

            You may be right, but not of the reason you think. The number of people getting substandard health care access is not the reason why it will be hard to “rip this thing out”. It’s the Republican’s inability to promote healthy, free market alternatives that will keep this anchor around our necks for the foreseeable future.

      2. And given the forecasts so far, we can expect millions fewer to be insured going into 2015 than had been in 2012.

        Medicaid! Coverage so good you need to coerce people to join it.

      3. Including Medicaid

        Which is not insurance, so it should not be included when talking about who has insurance.

        In any event growing the Medicaid rolls just makes the health care financing problem worse. In a nutshell, that problem is people not paying their own way. More Medicaid = more people not paying their own way = hole getting deeper.

        and the under-26 crowd

        And how many is that? Don’t forget, the expansion only covered ages 22 or 23 – 26, if memory services.

        1. Thank you.

          It’s particularly ludicris since the wealth transfer from young to old is supposed to shore up premiums. Adding people to Medicaid, even if you count that a good thing, exacerbates that problem.

    4. I would love to know the breakdowns of that 7 million number.

      I’ve no doubt they will keep that info hidden as long as possible.

      I keep reading where insurance companies are floating trial balloons that premiums may double next year.

      If the majority of that 7 million are old and/or new medicaid signups premiums and/or subsidies could more than double.

  5. I don’t care how many people supposedly enrolled on the web site. I judge Obamacare based on how it affects me, my family, and my friends. So far it is getting a solid F-.

    I would assume most other people would judge it in the same way. So no amount of “Eleventy billion people signed up on our web site! Hurrah!” Is going to trump “I lost the health insurance that I liked and now I have to pay twice as much for a shitty plan.”

    1. You weren’t among the program’s target demographic, e.g. voters who will usher in a permanent Democratic incumbency.

      1. Here are the words of one person who does fit that demographic.

        At another city-run multicultural center in Houston, Francisco Montano, a 62-year-old who does odd jobs, waited with his wife, Edith, 58. Montano scoffs at the $50 low-premium plan with the $12,500 deductible they have been offered and questions why he should pay for insurance, considering the companies “have all the money in the world.”

        $50 premiums and a $12,500 deductible.

        Thank you Obamacare. The gift that keeps on giving.


        1. I love that the fucking retarded boomer thinks the evul corporations “have all the money in the world” but doesn’t think to blame the government for inventing the plan he’s bitching about.

        2. But one of the goals is getting people out of those lazy HDHPs and into high-octane comprehensive plans.

          I’m certain “odd jobs” will pay to remove Edith’s cervical polyps. At least her birth control is subsidized.

          1. At least her birth control is subsidized.

            And she know has pre-natal coverage. Just what every post-menopausal woman needs! Beause you never know, her husband might get hit by a bus and impregnate her.

            1. Ok, I keep seeing this reference, but don’t know the source. Where did the hit by a bus thing come from?

            2. Ok, I keep seeing this reference, but don’t know the source. Where did the hit by a bus thing come from?

              1. I believe its a Tonyism. He said something unusually retarded about how everyone needs pregnancy coverage because getting pregnant is like getting hit by a bus, or something.

                I dunno. I try not to clutter my brain with that kind of crap.

          2. His $50 premium is due to a large subsidy I would think.

            But what is the point of insuring” someone with a subsidy to the insurance company paid by working taxpayers and then expect him to be able to pay for the first $12,500 of medical expenses?

            I informed my doctor that if an ACA patient quits paying their premiums they are still covered for 90 days. The insurance company is on hook for the first 30 days and the healthcare provider is on hook for the last 60 days and he will have no way to know if they are current.

            1. what is the point of insuring” someone with a subsidy to the insurance company paid by working taxpayers

              I believe your question answers itself.


    The Emperor has never looked more stylishly urbane.

  7. The administration blames this on misleading attacks funded by deep-pocketed conservative groups.

    Our political opponents are treating our partisan legislation partisanly!

    Meanwhile, suggesting that critics only opposed the bill because they hate uninsured poor people is, like, fair game, man.

  8. I could have sworn the number of uninsured bandied about was 47M. Where did this 30M come from?

      1. +1 Mad TV

      2. I know the 47M figure was heavily criticized at the time for including the temporarily uninsured, illegals, etc. But that was the figure used to sell the law. So I find it quite interesting that 30M is now the benchmark to measured against.

        1. And that 7 million is the measure of success.

  9. Hey, all they had to do was redefine the meaning of “enrolled”, delay the dealine by 3 months, throw a few hundred million more dollars at it, and point a gun at the head of everyone in the country. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

    1. you should see the regs. i’m going through on on the exchanges now. what a clusterfuck

    2. Who’d have ever guessed the MISSION ACCOMPLISHED tool was a two edged sword?

      1. Hey There John Galt,

        Tell me exactly how it was a “two edged sword.” I’ll be waiting for another one of your bowel movements in print.

  10. Sign me up for the same health care plan(s) that all of our Members of Congress (both Re Pooplicans and Demo Crazies) have, and I will be happy.

    1. Nice try peon. Now quit slacking and get back to work. Those sacks of salt aren’t going to fill themselves you know.

      1. Don’t misunderstand Mandalay. He’s not upset about people being forced to buy crappy health insurance at exorbitant prices, he’s just pissed off that there’s still a pretense of a private market instead of taxpayers picking up his tab directly.

        1. PM

          Looks like you have the same reading comprehension problems that John Galt does. My answer to you is the same.

          Stick your remarks up your bung hole. Have a nice weekend A** Wipe.

      2. John Galt,

        Too bad you are so damn stupid that you can’t recognize sarcasm. You are yet another person with reading comprehension problems.

        Sorry to disappoint you a**hole, but I have my own private, non-government health insurance and I also work full time.

        So, what’s your problem besides reading comprehension? Are you an abortion who lived and doesn’t have a sense a humor?

        You have a nice day A** Chunk.

        1. AssChunk?

          What are you, 5?

    2. And don’t forget to ask for access to Bethesda Military Hospital!

  11. Since the bogus numbers are to be used why not just go for the gold and claim 100 billion Americans enrolled and many times more are expected to do the same in the next few months.

    1. John Galt

      Nice try peon. Hope you have had time to read my other reply to you. If you don’t like it you can call 1 800 EAT CRAP.

      You have a nice day Anal Breath.

      1. Did you know they invented a cure for syphilis? It’s called penicillin. Ask your doctor, witch-doctor, medicine man, or faith healer about it.

      2. Damn, you must be a blast at party’s.

  12. Seven million is actually a horrifically low number. Take away the
    penalties and take away the subsidies and I’d be surprised if two
    million would have signed up. As for voting consequences, I’d bet that the vast majority of those who signed up already were free shit Democrat voters. The 2014 elections will show whether or not an equal or greater number of pissed off former Democrat voters swing to the GOP. Once again, the voters (those who only vote once, of course or who can decipher the ballot)will tell us if Tony is right or if the
    Team Red cheerleaders are right.

    1. Signed up?

      Surely you are aware that the ACA applies to virtually 100% of Americans and that “sign ups” for new insurance in the first round is a very small part of the total legislation?

      I’d say many tens of millions already have ObamaCare. I know I do, and I didn’t sign up for anything. That is, my son is covered, I can’t be dropped, my lifetime caps are off and I know I get (85% of) what I paid for…and much more.

      A rough figure might be that over 100 million have ‘signed up” for the ACA….it could be higher, but I’m not counting Medicare.

      So, if we want to see if Americans approve – there is an easy solution. No polls about “ObamaCare”. Simply wait another two years and ask Americans in a poll if they are generally satisfied with their health care. If the number is over 60%, we have a winner…eh?

  13. So, as was said before O-care was even passed, this huge fiasco that affects almost everybody (except federal employees, of course) was ostensibly to get 10% of the population insured.

    Of course, some of those 10% were insurance-less by choice. Not to mention the fact that being uninsured and not receiving health care are NOT the same thing. One of the biggest casualties over the past decade is that lefties (with Republicans’ help) have obliterated the distinction between “health care” and “health insurance.”

    And oh yeah, as long as I’m ranting: the government was already spending 50% of healthcare dollars BEFORE O-care! Is that not enough?

  14. A version of this column originally appeared in Al Jazeera.

    So I guess all those accusations of being obstructionist terrorists were true?


  15. I do taxes at a storefront national chain during the season. We had to endure hours of training on the next great cash cow – helping people avoid those horrible penaltaxes for not being insured. At the end of every tax return we do, we’re supposed to ask if they would like to spend another 20-30 minutes figuring out if they qualify for the subsidies. This was going to make us RICH. So far, I have asked 200 people and I have received not ONE positive response. Another big company that thought Obamacare was going to make them a bucket of money has gotten a bucket of warm spit instead! And I get people laughing in my face. Thanks, Dear Leader!

  16. Barack Obama’s administration is rejoicing that the program met its original enrollment target of seven million people.

    It wasn’t a target. It was a CBO projection. They turned it into a goal for the sole reason of having an excuse to celebrate, well, something.

  17. Keep at it Shikha.

    I did a little math after the AJ version came out, and I came up with a net increase of approximately 500,000 insured people, after backing out estimates of non-payment and people who had insurance in 2013.

    All this. For half a million new insurance policies.

    I’m sure that estimate can be refined, as data oozes out. I’m hoping you do so.

  18. If you like your life you can keep it…..Just don’t expect any meaningful assistance if a death panel determines you are not worthy.

    1. If you like your life , you can keep it …just so long as you pay an insurance premium or a penalty/tax for permission to do so.

  19. Every word out of his mouth is a lie doesn’t matter when he said it or how often he repeats it!

  20. Total complete Jive ass bastard!

  21. Time we find ourselves in we have seen better days and the future looks rather bleak! No matter what side of the fence you sit the need for destruction is the sole purpose of the left ! You can all scoff makes no difference damage is already done!!
    the liberal will win any discussion they have vast advantage it doesn’t matter what they say true or false does not matter in the mind of the liberal! Unfortunately the conservative has never figured that out!!

  22. Why would they be truthful about anything having to do with Obamacare. Like the fact it cannot sustain itself?

    ACA is the epitome of Marxism. It takes from one man to provide for another. With auto insurance if I wreck my car my rates go up. And one doesn’t have cheaper rates based on his income. Obamacare is Marxism. One who is less successful is sustained by those who pay more.

    Deception is also a propagated tactic of Karl himself. This isn’t theory of maybe Barry will lie. He already has. He said people could keep their plan. That didn’t happen?on a massive scale. He said premiums would be cheaper?they have increased on a massive scale.

    So should I believe him now? Probably not. What I do believe will happen is we will soon collapse as a nation. Not because my fiction says so?because history says so. Barry just hammered the final nail into our coffin. We can’t sustain ACA. The entitlement class is enrolling and the working and youth are not. And we already have 17 trillion dollars of debt with no intention of rectifying it. So sure Mr. Progressive, everything will be fine, I’m certain. See you on the battlefield.

    Charles Hurst. Author of THE SECOND FALL. An offbeat story of Armageddon. And creator of THE RUNNINGWOLF EZINE

  23. Obamacare is the best health plan in America — except for all the rest.

    Past and present.

  24. Did anyone read the comments under the original AL-jazeera article? Some brilliant lefty discredited all surveyed data and rational analysis in one fell stroke: Shikka writes for a Koch brothers funded org

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