A headline this week in The Hill shocked me: "ObamaCare enrollment strong in third week of sign-ups." The Hill is a serious, well-respected, non-partisan news source. But any reader taking this headline at face value would be seriously misled about what is really going on with Obamacare enrollments during this fifth open enrollment season.
The Hill's reporter correctly notes that "the pace of sign-ups has exceeded last year: In the first 26 days of last year's open enrollment period, 2.1 million people signed up compared to the 2.3 million people who signed up the first 18 days of this year's period."
Those figures imply that the daily rate of sign-ups this year is outpacing last year's rate by 58% [originally reported as 28%: Update #2]. Surely that is evidence of strong enrollment, no?
The reason it is not is buried at the tail-end of the story where the reporter notes "the enrollment period ends Dec. 15, which is about half as much time as people had to sign up last year."
Yipes! If enrollees have only half the time to sign up, then by pure arithmetic, the daily enrollment pace needs to be double last year's in order for total enrollment at the end of the enrollment period to match the level reach at the end of last year's enrollment period: 12,216,003.
But if current enrollment is 158% [originally reported as 128%: Update #2] of last year's when it needs to be 200%, a more accurate way to frame this year's performance would be to say that Obamacare is on track to sign up 21% [originally reported as 36%: Update #2] fewer enrollees than last year (i.e., 158/200=79% which would mean signing up 21% fewer). [originally reported as 128/200=64% which would meaning signing up 36% fewer: Update #2]. That's a pretty bad news story rather far removed from the rosy picture painted by The Hill's headline.
Read more at Forbes....