Media villager concern trolling over ‘ObamaCare’ enrollment

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

The Affordable Care Act aka "ObamaCare" is based upon and was designed by the same people who built "RomneyCare" in Massachusetts, and "RomneyCare" originated from a plan from the Heritage Foundation back in the days when it still had some modicum of crediblity as a conservative think tank. During the 2012 election, i mocked Willard "Mittens" Romney for his hypocritical attacks on "ObamneyCare" — it was his plan!

The media villagers, as they are wont to do, are irresponsibly behaving hysterically about the rollout of the federal health care Marketplace — which had to be set up only because of Tea-Publican sabotage of "ObamaCare" in red states, a critical point the media villagers always fail to mention — while the Marketplaces set up by individual states as the law intended are working just fine, something else the media villagers always fail to mention.

The media villager concern trolls have adopted the GOPropaganda line that the slow sign-ups will doom "ObamaCare" (the GOP does not care how many Americans sign up, they are committed to sabotaging and killing "ObamaCare," and are rooting for it to fail).

We could use some calm rational analysis not fueled by hysterical concern troll media villagers. Thankfully, Jonathan Cohn at The New Republic delivers. A Chart That Will Help Dispel Your Obamacare Hysteria:

The Obamacare online saga may be reaching the phase where media and
political hysteria is out of proportion to the actual problem. A case in
point is the controversy over enrollment numbers.

* * *

I suspect the [enrollment] numbers will come out soon enough, if not
because the administration announces them then because somebody leaks
them. When they do, enrollment in Obamacare private plans will probably
look pretty dismal. Most people will assume that's primarily because of
website problems at healthcare.gov. They will be wrong.

The
main reason for low enrollment will be that people don't sign up for
health insurance programs right away. They wait until the last minute.
This is true of public insurance and this is true of private insurance.
And while you've heard people (including me) say this for months, this
is one of those cases when numbers tell the story better than words. And
there are some numbers very few people have seen.

The numbers are from Massachusetts, the state whose health reforms
became the template for the Affordable Care Act’s coverage expansion.
The place to look is within what’s known as the “Commonwealth Care”
program, which is where people getting private insurance subsidies
shopped for plans—in other words, an analogous structure to the new
federally run exchanges.

Raw statistics on enrollment are already in circulation. They show that
the majority people didn’t sign up right away and a the biggest rush
came at the end, when people realized they would owe a financial penalty
for going without insurance. But even the raw numbers don’t fully
capture the timing of enrollment, because they include large numbers of
people whom Massachusetts officials automatically transferred from a
“free care” pool the state had operated previously. If you want to get a
real sense of enrollment patterns among people choosing to shop and buy
plans, it’s better to exclude the people getting free care. (In the
Massachusetts plan, that would mean people who ended up enrolling in
what were called “Type I” and, with some exceptions, “Type IIA” plans.)

Mass_enrollment_blue

Jonathan Gruber,
the MIT economist who was an architect of the Massachusetts health
reforms, has provided me with those numbers. The results? Of the 36,167
people who eventually enrolled in premium-charging plans from
Commonwealth Care, 123 signed up in the first month. That’s right—one
hundred and twenty-three, or about 0.3 percent. Over the first two
months, the number was a bit larger—2,289. But that’s still just 6.3
percent.

The analogy to Obamacare is far from perfect, in that
Commonwealth Care didn’t include wealthier people who didn't qualify for
subsidies. (In the Massachusetts scheme, they essentially had a
separate exchange—and enrollment there began half a year later.) Also,
the Massachusetts open enrollment period was twice as long. So it’s
reasonable to expect that, with a fully functional website, early
enrollment in Obamacare private plans would be higher than those numbers
above suggest. But the general point stands. Very few people sign up
for insurance in the first few months. Most wait until much later in the
game

As Harvard School of Public Health Professor John McDonough, who like Gruber worked on both the Massachusetts and federal reforms, wrote recently in the Boston Globe:

Bottom line — expectations of large-scale, instantaneous enrollment in the ACA are unrealistic and uninformed.

Massachusetts
has achieved a level of coverage which is higher than the likely full
impact of the ACA ever — about 97% of all state residents.  The rest of
the nation should be so lucky.  AND, it did not happen over night.  It
was a slow crawl, not a sprint.

This doesn't mean the website problems don't matter. They matter! It does mean the administration has time to fix them.

So chill out, "unrealistic and uninformed" media villager concern trolls. Your hysteria is making you look foolish.

UPDATE: Wonkblog's Sarah Kliff reports today Exclusive:
The feds have made 330,000 Obamacare eligibility determinations
. "This figure is arguably the most robust measure released to date by the Obama administration of how many Americans are successfully applying for financial help in purchasing an insurance plan."

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