The Obama administration says it expects only a slight increase in the number of people with private insurance purchased through Obamacare next year. Currently, it estimates that 9.1 million will have such insurance at the end of 2015. At the end of 2016, it predicts the number will rise to 10 million.
This is a far cry from previous government estimates. Indeed, it is only about half the number recently forecast by the Congressional Budget Office. According to the Washington Post, CBO analysts have long expected 2016 to usher in the biggest surge in enrollment.
The Obama administration’s new estimate may or not prove accurate. It’s possible that the administration is trying to lower expectations and that an aggressive advertising campaign will push the actual number significantly higher.
However, it’s also possible that the actual number will be lower. This could occur if many of those who currently are insured under Obamacare decide not to renew their enrollment. As the Post pointedly observes, “the sign-up period will test consumers’ willingness to renew insurance that comes with greater out-of-pocket expenditures and a smaller choice of doctors, compared with the typical health benefits Americans get through their employers.
As always, moreover, sign-up statistics depend in part on how many Americans lose the health insurance plans employers have provided them.
Along with its estimate of a meager rise in Obamacare enrollment, Team Obama offered a classic piece of spin. It stated that enrollment, originally pegged to reach 24 million within several years, is not plateauing, but instead is on “a much longer path towards equilibrium.”
Perhaps. But it may simply be that the “young invincibles” who make up a large portion of potential Obamacare consumers don’t see merit in the idea of subsidizing other people and/or are unimpressed by the product.
UPDATE: A friend notes that Team Obama’s spin is indeed classic.