After a rocky start in October the number of enrollments in Obamacare have surged in the first two weeks of November. In the 14 states which have set up their own exchanges, there have been about 200,oo0 who have enrolled and selected a plan.
This increase in the rate at which people are enrolling is an indication that the anemic numbers in October were more a result of technical glitches than a lack of interest. Many of the state systems have experienced problems with their online exchanges as well as the highly publicized problems with the the federal exchange. In Oregon, for example, they are still only able to enroll people with paper forms, but even there they are seeing a growing pace.
California, where there have been a total of 80,000 enrollments, reports that they are seeing 2,000 sign-ups a day this month. Drew Altman, President of the Kaiser Family Foundation said, “It’s not all doom and gloom. What this says is that the problems are system problems, not problems with demand or interest. Reason would suggest that other states can do as well over time, if we’re able to do this in Kentucky or Washington.”
The California numbers are particularly telling since the state accounts for 1/3 of all enrollments in the country with those enrolled in October and the first two weeks of November they are well ahead of what they had expected to see this early. In Washington state they have seen similar surges with 55,000 enrolled in October and a jump to 98,000 in just the first two weeks of November.
With the new deadline pushed back to December 23 for a policy which will take effect on January 1 the states and federal exchange are expecting another surge after Thanksgiving to assure a policy that will begin with the New Year after people have made their final decision as to which policy they want to sign up for.
The one thing that all of the law’s detractors fail to recognize when they say that the low enrollment numbers are proof that the American people do not want this, even as polls show that the majority actually think that the law needs to be fixed but not scrapped, is that people need and want health insurance.
There are many who could not afford anything before now who will be able to now, just as there are many who could not obtain insurance at any price due to a preexisting condition. There is a need and where there is a need there is a demand and that demand will keep the numbers going up.
It is too early in the process to say for sure who it is that is signing up but there is evidence that the key demographic, the one that the detractors all insist will not purchase insurance because they don’t think they need it and would rather pay the penalty, the young, will in fact be signing up in sufficient numbers to make the law work.
While the available numbers show that in some states there are relatively low numbers of young people enrolling a recent survey conducted by the Commonwealth Fund found that 58% of the young adults surveyed said that they were likely to shop on the exchanges and purchase a policy before the end of open enrollment on March 31, 2014. This is an encouraging number since it is projected that to succeed the law needs young adults to sign up for insurance.
There are problems, mainly technical but they are not insurmountable and will be fixed in time, the important thing is that the trend of growing numbers of uninsured is being reversed and people are getting the health insurance that they need. The problems will be fixed, some may take time, the healthcare.gov website is a major obstacle but it is being worked on and Jeff Zeints, who was brought in to oversee the fixes to the site has said that by the end of November it will be handling up to 50,000 users at a time.
h/t: Daily Kos