How many people did Obamacare really enroll?

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Article Highlights

  • The government obfuscates when it comes to the Obamacare enrollment figures.

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  • Goldman Sachs gets at a final enrollment figure closer to my early estimates of 4-5 mil people in Obamacare exchanges.

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  • Goldman models an 80% completion rate for enrollment [in ACA] and a mix of 25% uninsured.

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The government obfuscates when it comes to the Obamacare enrollment figures. Today’s data dump is no different. Today’s figures count people who have signed up, but haven’t cut checks for their premiums. The numbers don’t even bake in early enrollees who still haven’t paid (and are unlikely to do so). They also don’t tell you how many of the new enrollees lacked prior coverage.

Goldman Sachs is out with an analysis tonight that builds in some of these assumptions. They get at a final enrollment figure closer to my early estimates of 4-5 million people in the Obamacare exchanges.

The investment bank’s analysts project that the Obamacare exchanges will end up enrolling a total of 4 million people – including 1 million who were previously uninsured. To get to their numbers, they assume a further 1.3 million to 1.8 million enrollments in Obamacare, to arrive at a cumulative exchange enrollment figure of 5.5 million to 6.0 million. However, like the government figures, that counts everyone — even those who selected a plan but didn’t pay their first premium.

The government figures also don’t show how many exchange enrollees were previously insured, and transitioned into the exchanges, either because their prior coverage was dropped as a result of new regulations; or they had insurance, but voluntarily dropped it and self selected to enroll in Obamacare plans because the exchange subsidies made it a better economic deal for them.

Goldman Sach’s tries to estimate all of these numbers by extrapolating from the most recent survey figures published by the McKinsey Center for U.S. Health System Reform. Goldman models an 80% completion rate for enrollment (people following through, and paying their premiums) and a mix of 25% uninsured (the McKinsey survey figures were 77% and 27%, respectively).

From that, Goldman’s analysts refine their total Obamacare exchange enrollment projection to 4 million (versus their prior estimate of 3 million) with about 1 million representing people who lacked insurance prior to Obamacare.

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