ObamaCare hit 3-million enrollees on Friday — still short of the number the administration had hoped for by the end of December — but reached only by including enrollees who have not yet made their first payment. The insurance industry traditionally considers someone enrolled when they pay their first month’s premium. Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services reported 24% of the 2.2 million enrollees through Dec. 28 were between ages 18 and 34. The Affordable Care Act’s survival depends on younger, and presumably more healthy, enrollees to sign up for care to keep insurance pools balanced. Under the ACA, every individual in the country has to have insurance by April 1 -- the end of open enrollment period -- or they will face a $95 fine, or 1% of their annual income for failing to comply.
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“We are encouraged that millions of people have been enrolled in Marketplace or Medicaid coverage since October 1, and will work to give millions more Americans the peace of mind that comes with health security in the months ahead,” Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said in a release.
Devon Herrick, senior analyst at the National Center for Policy Analysis, says the report continues to leave out two key statistics: premium payments and demographics.
“We knew and assumed that as we got closer to the first of the year, more people would go online, especially as the administration ironed out the bugs in the exchange software and website,” Herrick says. “It does make sense that as they can, more people will go online.”
But fears of adverse selection, which is when older and sicker people making up the majority of enrollees, remains.
“The administration seems to be quietly worried about that as well,” he says. “Hopefully the late enrollees are younger people.”