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November 19, 2013 4:30 AM Healthcare.snfu? Not So Fast

By James Wimberley

The HHS has released its first detailed statistical report on ACA online applications processed in the first month (October 1 - November 2).

Their summary below the jump:

The split of the 846,184 completed applications between states running their own marketplaces and those relying on healthgov.com is 326,623 (39%) to 519,561 (61%). Some of the other eligibility indicators have similar ratios. However, of the 106,185 individuals who have selected a marketplace plan, it’s 79,391 (75%) to 26,794 (25%). This no doubt reflects the much worse start of the federal site.

The tables exclude all those who have tried to make an application and failed to complete it because of software or administrative snafus. If you read the despairing comments on the hhs blog - a sounding board for the lost without any responses - some unfortunate citizens have been trying since October 1. The best advice seems to be to abandon a jammed application and try again: with paranoid care, a new email address and a virgin browser. On the other side, the report does not include the first fortnight in November, when by all accounts the federal website was working much better than in October.

Healthgov.com is still far from Amazon’s smoothness, as Zients’ team readily admits. The claim that it’s an irremediably broken system is b/s. Healthgov has determined 886,015 Americans as eligible for a marketplace insurance plan or Medicaid. A broken system, as opposed to an unacceptably buggy, unfriendly, maddening one, could not possibly have done this.

It still of course has a long way to go. The 106,185 who have selected an insurance plan represent 1.5% of the estimated total of the eligible - a slightly better rate, as the report cattily notes, to the early take up of Romneycare in Massachusetts in 2007.

Please look at the HHS report before commenting.

Update: A different thought. One of the surprises in the website enrollment is the large proportion found eligible for Medicaid or CHIP: 396,261. ACA did expand eligibility for Medicaid (outside the neo-Confederacy), so many of these were not eligible before. But I wonder: how many may have been, but did not apply out of ignorance or fear of stigma? The great thing with universal health care (which ACA isn’t quite, but near) is that it’s a right, so there’s no shame in claiming it.

[Cross-posted at The Reality-Based Community]

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James Wimberley was head of the mutual assistance section of the department of education for the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, and secretary to the Councilís higher education and research committee. He is retired.

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