Several weeks ago, OccupyDemocrats.com reported that, despite its rocky launch, it was very well possible that the Affordable Care Act would reach the CBO’s estimate of 7 million people signing up for health insurance coverage. At the time, numbers were still uncertain because healthcare.gov only had one solid month of being fully operational. The 7 million number was expected to be reached by March. Today, it was reported that 9 million people have signed up for coverage, blowing away the expert’s estimates.
More than half of the almost 2.2 million people who bought health insurance on federal and state exchanges in the past three months are older than 45, records released Monday show.
Almost 1.2 million people have enrolled in private insurance through the federal health care exchange from Oct. 1 to Dec. 28, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said, and more than 1 million signed up in December alone.
Another 956,000 people have signed up for private insurance through state-based exchanges between Oct. 1 and Dec. 28, HHS records show.
About 55% of the early enrollees, Sebelius and other officials said, are between the ages of 45 and 64, an older group of people that often drive up health care costs.
Julie Bataille, spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said 3.9 million people have signed up for Medicaid directly through the states, and that some of those enrollments are renewals. Combined with the young people still covered with their parents, that comes to 9 million people enrolled in private plans or Medicaid who may not have had the coverage before the 2010 passage of the Affordable Care Act.
The Right is likely to spin the numbers as a failure, by pointing out how many older Americans signed up for coverage. The Affordable Care Act relies on younger, healthier adults to even out the poll and keep prices low. However, many of the adults that signed up for coverage also added their children to their policy. According to the Washington Post:
It all came down to the ratio. If 7 million people signed up for the exchanges — as CBO predicted — the Obama administration believed success meant ensuring about 2.7 million of them were young and healthy. If they got 10 million people to sign up, about 3.9 million had to be young and healthy. If they got 4 million to sign up, success would mean making sure 1.5 million were young and healthy.
In other words, the law is progressing exactly as planned with the ratio of young to older. Right now, an average of 26% who are purchasing insurance are below the age of 35. Special interest groups like Young Invincibles hope to sign up between 37% and 40% enrollees younger than 35.
According to Aaron Smith, co-founder of Young Invincibles, “I think where we’re at now shows that we’re on track for that. We saw huge numbers in December, compared to the previous months.”
The Federal Exchange is not the only place where enrollment is going up. State-run exchanges are also seeing increases across the United States. California is perhaps one of the best examples of a well run state exchange.
Peter Lee, executive director of California’s health exchange, said younger Californians are “enrolling at rates similar to their population.”
California is also stepping up its advertising to younger people. On Thursday, it will start a YouTube campaign that uses comedians, celebrities and athletes to “speak to young people about why health reform is so relevant to them.” Though it’s led by California, the “Tell A Friend, Get Covered” campaign is nationwide.
Lee said the state will also focus on students returning to school after winter break. “It’s all part of building on the momentum that there has been already to enroll young people,” he said.
Monday’s news comes just after CMS announced it has replaced its lead contractor, CGI Federal, with Accenture. Accenture built California’s site, which has been leading enrollment numbers in the state exchanges.
“Accenture’s been a very good partner for us,” Lee said. “We’ve had bumps in the road, but it’s been a well-managed process.”
Since the rocky rollout in October, the Obama Administration has been on a mission to see the Affordable Care Act succeed.
When the CBO estimated 7 million enrollees, they were counting on healthcare.gov working from day one, as well as states expanding Medicaid and setting up their own insurance exchange. Unfortunately, that did not happen. All of the website issues are nearly resolved, but many Republicans are still abstaining from the expansion.
With the success of the ACA, Republicans only stand to harm themselves. While ObamaCare is just one stop on the way to single-payer, the breaking of the CBO estimate 2 month before the open enrollment closes at the end of March is a major victory, not only for President Obama, but for the American people.
Chris Hayes reported last week’s predictions were that 9 million people were able to receive coverage thanks to ObamaCare. Today, that number was verified.