Obamacare's upside surprise: Off-exchange sign-ups boost enrollment trends

Gil C / Shutterstock.com

Article Highlights

  • Off exchange enrollment could be as high as 20% according to one Wall Street analyst.

    Tweet This

  • HHS has routinely cooked the Obamacare numbers it releases.

    Tweet This

  • Off-exchange enrollees [could] offset the number of people who sign up on the exchange, but will never pay their first premium.

    Tweet This

HHS has been purposely inflating the enrollment numbers that they publish on Obamacare, which makes one of their omissions odd. They have made no estimate of the number of people signing up off the exchanges.

These enrollments are giving a boost to Obamacare’s sign up trends, and will represent an upside surprise on the final tally in March. That makes it all the more strange that the Obama Administration doesn’t make mention of these customers. Maybe it would draw unwanted scrutiny to the protracted woes with the web site.

Off exchange enrollment could be as high as 20%, according to one Wall Street analyst. If that holds true nationwide, these enrollees would probably offset the number of people who sign up on the exchange, but will never pay their first premium (and thus never be truly enrolled).

Off exchange enrollments are people who go directly to insurance companies to enroll, bypassing the exchanges altogether. Since the web portals weren’t working at the outset, a large number of people chose this direct route.

The one data point we have on “off exchange” enrollment trends comes from Highmark, which recently announced that 31% of the 133,000 people it has enrolled across the three states where it operates (Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Delaware) signed up off exchanges.

WellPoint has also said that about 20% of its applications came off exchanges, from customers going directly to the insurer.

The off-exchange enrollment trends might include more people who previously had health coverage in the individual market, and thus knew how to go directly to insurers to shop for policies. Nonetheless, HHS has routinely cooked the Obamacare numbers it releases. Yet they seemed to have missed this data point.

Go figure.

You can follow Dr. Scott Gottlieb on Twitter @ScottGottliebMD. For more from the AEI health policy team, follow @AEIHealth.

Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine
About the Author



What's new on AEI

AEI Election Watch 2014: What will happen and why it matters
image A nation divided by marriage
image Teaching reform
image Socialist party pushing $20 minimum wage defends $13-an-hour job listing
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 27
  • 28
  • 29
  • 30
  • 31
Monday, October 27, 2014 | 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
State income taxes and the Supreme Court: Maryland Comptroller v. Wynne

Please join AEI for a panel discussion exploring these and other questions about this crucial case.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014 | 9:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
For richer, for poorer: How family structures economic success in America

Join Lerman, Wilcox, and a group of distinguished scholars and commentators for the release of Lerman and Wilcox’s report, which examines the relationships among and policy implications of marriage, family structure, and economic success in America.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014 | 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
The 7 deadly virtues: 18 conservative writers on why the virtuous life is funny as hell

Please join AEI for a book forum moderated by Last and featuring five of these leading conservative voices. By the time the forum is over, attendees may be on their way to discovering an entirely different — and better — moral universe.

Thursday, October 30, 2014 | 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
A nuclear deal with Iran? Weighing the possibilities

Join us, as experts discuss their predictions for whether the United States will strike a nuclear deal with Iran ahead of the November 24 deadline, and the repercussions of the possible outcomes.

Thursday, October 30, 2014 | 5:00 p.m. – 6:15 p.m.
The forgotten depression — 1921: The crash that cured itself

Please join Author James Grant and AEI senior economists for a discussion about Grant's book, "The Forgotten Depression: 1921: The Crash That Cured Itself" (Simon & Schuster, 2014).

No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled today.
No events scheduled this day.