The Obama Administration won’t say how many Americans have enrolled in a health insurance plan through the ObamaCare exchanges. The White House has been touting the number of hits the exchange websites have had since their launch at the beginning of the month, despite many reports of glitches.
But during an interview this weekend, President Barack Obama couldn’t say how many people had enrolled for coverage. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew completely avoided the question. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was unable to provide numbers last week and during his briefing yesterday with reporters. He did say, however, that data would be released on a monthly basis.
Here’s what we do know. Insurers aren’t seeing a huge amount of people enrolling for coverage through the exchange, describing the numbers as a “trickle,” far from the expectations that supporters of the law had. What’s more, CNBC reported on Friday that 99% of federal health insurance exchange applications aren’t going through because there isn’t enough information to enroll the applicant or their data cannot be verified.
Speaking of all those glitches and errors on the federal exchange website? Yeah, those problems didn’t necessarily happen because of a lack of server capacity due to heavy traffic on the site, but rather poorly designed software, according to Reuters.
One IT professional compared the site’s design to “what happens when hackers conduct a [DDOS] attack.” The Washington Post also spoke to an IT professional who said that there wasn’t enough testing done on the ObamaCare exchange website to ensure quality.
None of this is to say that the problems with the exchanges won’t eventually be worked out, but the perception is that the Obama Administration has badly fumbled the first real rollout of major aspects of ObamaCare. What’s more, the administration and congressional Democrats seem to be in complete denial of it.
The exchanges and the individual mandate are the two most central parts of ObamaCare. Without them, the law can’t work. From a public relations standpoint, Obama Administration officials knew that they couldn’t delay the exchanges after they delayed the employer mandate, a move seized upon by congressional Republicans as admission that the law wasn’t ready.
They also know that delaying the individual mandate, which has been pushed Republicans want, would severely cripple the law because new, healthy policy buyers on the exchange are subsidizing the sick and elderly.
If enrollment numbers don’t meet expectations, it could be very bad for individual policyholders who could see their health insurance premiums skyrocket around renewal time next year. That could cause the entire structure of ObamaCare to implode as more people will be priced out of the health insurance market, meaning there will be less people around to subsidize those who the law was created to help.