Many Obamacare Shoppers Aren’t Actually Buying

Medicaid, not private insurance, is getting the bulk of early state enrollments

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It’s not clear how many Americans have secured new health insurance through Obamacare — the federal government won’t disclose initial figures until November. But some states have released preliminary numbers and a look at the early statistics shows that the vast majority of people who have managed to navigate the sign-up process in some states have enrolled in Medicaid, not private health plans.

The Affordable Care Act allowed states to expand eligibility for Medicaid, and about half have done so, meaning millions more Americans now qualify for the public insurance program. It’s also likely that many people who previously qualified but never signed up for Medicaid may be enrolling amid the Obamacare publicity blitz.

About 13 percent of those who’ve signed up for new coverage in Washington State, where the state-run insurance exchange appears to be operating fairly well, have enrolled in private plans; the rest were added to the Medicaid rolls. In its first week-and-a-half of operation, Connecticut’s exchange enrolled about the same number of people in Medicaid as in private health plans. And in Kentucky, more than half of all new enrollees signed up for Medicaid.

(MORE: No More Apologies: Why Obama Has to Get Mad About His Broken Obamacare Websites)

The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that some 7 million people will sign up for private health coverage through the federal and state insurance exchanges by the end of 2014 and about 9 million will be added to the Medicaid rolls during the same period.

Figuring out which new enrollees fall into each category is not easy. Some state exchanges allow enrollment in Medicaid as well as private plans while others only offer the latter option, leaving Medicaid enrollment to other state agencies. And many officials have been tight lipped about numbers. The troubled federal exchange handling enrollment for more than 30 states isn’t releasing enrollment figures until next month and states that have publicly provided numbers are sharing a variety of different metrics that are not easy to compare. Some states have reported the number of people whose identity has been verified, making them eligible to apply for coverage and federal subsidies to cover some of the cost of coverage, while some have also reported the number of people who have taken a further step and applied for private plans. A third category reported by some states are the number of people who have actually enrolled in plans.

This last category and the total new Medicaid enrollees are ultimately the only numbers that matter. Since the bungled launch of Obamacare’s insurance exchanges, the White House has been touting overwhelming interest — going so far as to blame high demand for many of the federal site’s technical malfunctions. But browsers only matter if they translate into buyers, or, in the case of Medicaid, enrollees. And the White House hasn’t said how many of those there are.

MORE: Obamacare’s Next (Narrow) Supreme Court Test

34 comments
JohnDale49
JohnDale49

I love watching this law die. Liberals are running around angry as ever I see. Jeanne Shaheen now begging for a delay?


Picture a ship. Obamacare depends on equal numbers of people filling the stern (the makers) and the bow (the takers). Unfortunately, almost nobody is going stern, they're all running to the bow. This sinks the boat. It will capsize.

Perhaps this is why Mark Pryor is now on senate death watch, with his approval ratings plummeting, no?

SharonReynolds
SharonReynolds

Yup, the life of the entitled, all the young will wait till they are sick then sign up since the insurance companies cannot turn down pre-existing conditions.

DeeWin
DeeWin

"Obama is my Shepherd; I shall not work.
He maketh me to lie about the green job market:
He leadeth me beside the still factories.
He restoreth my sloth:
He leadeth me in the paths of hyping his self-rightousness for Barrack’s name sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the sharing of the wealth,
I will fear no workforce: For thou art funding me;
Thy welfare and thy food stamp, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of this bad economy;
Thou annoyest my head with oil prices; My crack pipe runneth over.

Surely ungratefulness and poverty shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the housing of the Obama forever."

GJ/Yahoo thread

MelissaCianteo
MelissaCianteo

Okay so the new American dream is the mother and father having  two part-time jobs  each making just enough money to pay for daycare and healthcare


formerlyjames
formerlyjames

If I understand correctly (and I don't know anybody who does, including me), Medicaid is administered by both federal and state governments and states enjoy a big prerogative as to expansion or not and many states refuse to expand Medicaid eligibility.   Those same states who hold the line on Medicaid also happen to not participate in the insurance exchange system.  

Ms. Pickert, I know you are the resident ACA expert, but you didn't quite explain all of the impacts and contingencies here. 

AnneVincent
AnneVincent

So the dirty little secret about Obamacare......it's all about distribution of "freebies", and has little to do with reorganization of the insurance industry. The "reorganization or insurance" part will fail, because forcing middle class people to subsidize the costs for the "working poor" will be rejected by the masses, and because the lack of real cost containments for medical care will eventually translate into the out-pricing of most Americans. The new expanded Medicaid will translate into the "Obama Clinics" system......with loss of medical privacy and personalized/individual care, along with the selective restriction of resources, and will also eventually be exposed and rejected. Two-tiered medicine, with lousy clinic care for the poor, and the other option being overly expensive private care (for the few that continue to pay-through-the-nose)for the others. Both of the tiers representing bad designs and terrible outcomes. Thank you Obama.

SmoothEdward1
SmoothEdward1

Why don't you all relax and wait to see what happens after more time and the registration process gets working properly? 

shodges101
shodges101

So, the main success of ACA so far is that it has allowed a large number of new people to get on the dole and receive federal assistance.  Medicaid already underpays for services, with the costs shifted to those with private insurance.  Now we will be adding millions more cost-shifting supplicants to the list.  And this will be 'paid for' by savings realized by reducing the amount the Feds will pay for medicaid services even more. 

The numbers won't add up.  Millions more medicaid recipients, subsidies for private insurance buyers, more cost-shifting to private insurance plans.  The rosy scenarios needed to project anything but a fiscal disaster for government and huge premium increases for those of us who don't rely on the dole to pay for our insurance strain credibility.

TedyWolvesevelt
TedyWolvesevelt

This article is misleading. Expanded Medicaid IS Obamacare, just as much as the exchanges. In fact, only 7% of Americans are projected to eventually be covered through the exchanges. Most people will be on employer plans, or have Medicare or Medicaid. 

Kmap
Kmap

I looked, but did not buy because it it was way too expensive. I am crossing my fingers that our self-purchased insurance, which is scheduled to be dropped in 2015 due to ACA, will somehow be resurrected or extended. Otherwise my family is screwed. Our max annual out of pocket hit will triple under the ACA. And that is under the cheapest Bronze plan. I wrote to the president about this, but he hasn't used my letter.

jmooresales
jmooresales

@SharonReynolds   Spot on!  They will also simply pay the penalty then if they get sick head right back to the Emergency Room.

barneydidit
barneydidit

@DeeWin Ahh...I see someone has bought into the "47% of the country are moochers" mind set that Mitt Romney tried to resurrect during his campaign. How ironic is it that he got 47% of the vote?  Too funny. 

TomMiller1
TomMiller1

If you cant afford to have kids why have them?      

barneydidit
barneydidit

@AnneVincent No, thank you Republicans for telling us the Private Option plan that the House passed in 09, and coincidentally increased competition and was fully paid for...was "a big government takeover of healthcare" (and of course "socialist"), so they consequently filibustered it...despite the 65% approval by the country.

But I"m sure you guys on the right will come up with an alternative to that Public Option, or Obamacare pretty soon.

MaryLarsen
MaryLarsen

@shodges101 Thank you for your comment.  I have never seen anyone but myself talk about the cost shifting to those of us with private insurance. You also could add to your cost shifting list medicare and Tricare also they both pay less then the cost of the service.

barneydidit
barneydidit

@shodges101 Uhm...it's not a "dole" Hodges. Unless of course you follow Mitt Romney's philosophy that 47% of the country is just permanently residing on government aid...because it's such a wonderful way to live. 

jmooresales
jmooresales

@JohnDavidDeatherage   Liberals never think of those because all of their decisions are based on "feelings" and not logic.  How's that "war on poverty" that LBJ introduced working out after 50 years?

MarieLindsey
MarieLindsey

Many working people do purchase individual plans and most of these premiums are increasing effective 1/1/14.  My individual policy is going up 202% and the coverage is worse. 

SteveeLaMontGroff
SteveeLaMontGroff

@TomMiller1 your statement doesn't really make sense considering the children were here before this Obamacare bs..

SharonReynolds
SharonReynolds

@TomMiller1 Unless each child is a raise on your welfare check, to the tune of 1500.00 each per month....

MaryLarsen
MaryLarsen

@barneydidit @AnneVincent why do we have to have an alternative??  Just because Obama comes up with a lousy idea does not mean that we must jump right in and come up with an equally bad idea on the federal level.  I feel that the states should develop plans that suit their needs and the needs of their citizens.  I think this one size fits no one needs to go by the way side !!

AnneVincent
AnneVincent

@barneydidit @AnneVincent You may want to blame the Republicans, but it was the Blue Dog Democrats that blocked single payer, blocked Medicare expansion for all adults over 50, and blocked the Private Option. Obama couldn't/wouldn't deal with the insurance-controlled members of his own party, let alone the Republicans.

Innocentious
Innocentious

@barneydidit @shodges101 

How is the expansion of medicaid not 'the dole' ? Just wondering... It is okay if it is not but last I checked the program placed out a heck of a lot more money than it brought in in taxes.

JonFranchi
JonFranchi

@jmooresales @doight1  Since nearly every single city leans democratic, why do you ignore the majority of the cities that are not "inner city hellholes" as you describe them.  I don't judge the GOP on eastern Tennesee.

JonFranchi
JonFranchi

@BruceLogan @doight1 It's a forum on an internationally accessible website.  Perfectly entitled to their opinion just as you are.  I am sure they are already aware they cannot vote in the US.

jmooresales
jmooresales

@doight1 My bear of little brain, please tell me a single "subsidy" that the oil companies get?   Waiting......waiting.......

As for where the federal handouts go, one need look not further than the bright blue dots on the political map that are the inner city hell holes.  For that matter, the only blue spots on that map are the murder capitals of the country whose voters are simply told to put an "X" by the candidate with a "D" next to their name.

Simpleton!

BruceLogan
BruceLogan

@doight1 seems to me that if you live in canada you don't have a say in what goes on here anyway.. zip it canuck!

doight1
doight1

@Innocentious @barneydidit @shodges101 

The entire USA is on the dole.  When will Republicans stop saying that they are paying for other people.  Their are farm subsidies, oil subsidies, Medicare/Medicaid fraud, Wall Street dishonesty.  The fact that you don't want to see your fellow countrymen get health insurance sickens us in Canada.  Stop your winning.  Look at the Red States and see how much they suck out of the federal government, and they hate lazy democrats...give me a break.

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