February Obamacare sign-up numbers look pretty weak [With Comment By John]

The Department of HHS is claiming that “approximately 4 million people have now signed up for a private health insurance plan through the Federal and State-based Marketplaces since October 1.” The open enrollment period will last for five more weeks.

HHS continues to provide the number of Obamacare “sign-ups” without telling us how many have paid and therefore actually have health insurance. Not everyone who signs up for Obamacare will pay for it. Some will change their mind, some will forget to pay, some will have signed up for several plans while intending, of course, to pay for only one in the end.

Based on reports from health insurers, the best estimate seems to be that approximately 20 percent of signees are not making their first monthly premium payment.

It also appears that the sign-up rate has declined. John Sexton of Breitbart writes:

The newly announced figure suggests that the pace of enrollment has slowed slightly since last month. With only a few days left in the month, February enrollment so far is only at 700,000. If you adjust for the few remaining days it looks as if February enrollment could stall out around 850,000.

According to the National Journal, about 1.8 million people enrolled in December and 1.1 million enrolled last month.

January was the first month in which the number of signees exceeded the government’s predicted number. The February predicted number is 1.27 million. It seems clear that the actual number will fall well short of this target.

Similarly, it seems clear that when enrollment closes at the end of March, the number of signees will fall well short of the 7 million Kathleen Sebelius said last year would “look like success.” Sibelius now denies that she ever considered the seven million figure a benchmark for success. She claims that this was merely “a CBO, Congressional Budget Office, prediction when the bill was first signed.”

However, as Wynton Hall of Breitbart reminds us, in September 2013, NBC News asked Sebelius what success would look like for Obamacare. She responded: “Well, I think success looks like at least seven million people having signed up by the end of March 2014.”

As they used to say, you could look it up. Or you could watch Sebelius say it:

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JOHN adds: The number of people who have signed up for insurance on the Obamacare exchanges is certainly a metric worth tracking, but the administration shouldn’t be allowed to get away with the claim that more signups equals success. The key question, it seems to me, is WHO is signing up for Obamacare. To the extent they are people who already had good insurance, but lost it because of Obamacare, the fact that they are now forced onto the exchanges isn’t a good thing, it is a bad thing. More signups by those people equals failure, not success. So I don’t think we can evaluate a single number–how many people have enrolled on the exchanges, including paying a premium–until we know how many of that number were previously uninsured, and how many already had coverage but lost it because of the ACA.