March 31st, Obamacare, ACA, healthcare.gov……..open enrollment is over. Well, at least for those who don’t meet the exception qualifications. The dust has settled. But has it really? How many individuals are newly insured through the exchanges? Newly insured through employers? Still uninsured? Can they even be accurately counted?
Early returns would indicate that more than 6 million individuals have enrolled in the health insurance exchanges. But these returns are estimates. Although this number may appear to be accurate, it is almost impossible to know how many of these 6 million people are fully enrolled AND have paid premiums. Final numbers may come in mid-April, but they probably won’t be accurate either as not everyone in that tally will have paid their first premium. These individuals can’t be considered covered until they do. This count will also not include individuals who have signed up through non government sites, through insurers, or are part of the “exception” group and encountered problems when trying to enroll.
The ACA was designed to significantly reduce the 48 million people uninsured nationally. One of the most important numbers that is not yet available is by how much the new health care options have actually decreased the number of uninsured people. The data that has been published does not differentiate between enrollees who were previously uninsured and those who moved coverage to a policy purchased through an exchange but had been insured elsewhere. Individuals who may have declined employer sponsored health insurance in the past, but have elected to enroll now would also not be included in this enrollment count.
There has been much media attention given to the youth demographic: individuals ages 18-34. , Many of the recent enrollment numbers indicate that approximately 25% of the new enrollees are in this group. Of course, this is a key part of the population to attract as they are most often the healthiest segment. These numbers are also difficult to validate as well.
One of the most critical components of these enrollment totals is the impact by state. Health insurance is regulated state by state so that the individual state demographic can affect the cost going forward. Carriers don’t yet know the ultimate impact of Obamacare enrollment on individual states and will most likely not release 2015 premium costs until close to open enrollment time. With so many unanswered questions, it is hard to imagine that premiums will remain the same.
As has been the case with most aspects health care reform…..we’ll see.
For additional information, contact EAB HealthWorks.