You have heard that the enrollment numbers just announced for the Obamacare exchanges, particularly the Federal Exchange, are terrible and signal an impending disaster. Well, maybe everybody shouldn’t get so exciting. The best comparison that we can make to a roll out like the Obamacare roll out is what happened in Massachusetts during the first month of enrollment in that state’s plan, which is the model for Obamacare.
The first month Massachusetts had only 123 enrollees. By the end of the first enrollment period, Massachusetts had 36,167 enrollees. In other words, just 0.34 percent of people enrolling in the Massachusetts health plan did so in the first month.What happens if Obamacare enrollment follows the Massachusetts pattern for the rest of the enrollment period? Let’s do some math.
Let Y = the number of enrollees during the first month.Let Z = the number of toal enrollees for the entire first enrollment period.
Let X = the percent of total enrollees who enrolled during the first monthWe calculate the percent enrolling the first month out of total enrollment this way: Y/Z=X
Thus for Mass we have:123 / 36,167 = 0.00340089 (or 0.34 percent)
Suppose we wanted to know Z (the total enrollments we could expect for the first enrollment year) if we knew Y (the number of enrollees the first month) and X (the percentage of enrollees the first month)To find Z when we know X and Y, the formula would be:
Y/X = Zor for Mass we have:
123/0.00340089 = 36,167Now, let’s do the same calculation for Obamacare:
For Obamacare we would have:Y = 106,000 (the number of enrollees during the first month)
Z = 0.00340089 (the Mass enrollment percentage for the first month)Therefore:
106,000 / 0.00340089 = 31,168,312 enrollees during the first enrollment period for Obamacare.In other words, if Obamacare enrollment followed the pattern of Mass, the closest thing we have for a model, then Obamacare would enroll more than four times the orginial administration estimate of 7 million enrollees during the first enrollment period. That would be more than the 24 million people the Congressional Budget Office estimated would be purchasing insurance through the exchanges by 2019.
Of course, Obamacare may not follow the Mass enrollment pattern. It could do better or worse. However, it looks like Obamacare will do MUCH better than Mass, not worse. Why do I say this? Well, let’s look at the math once more.So, how well did Obamacare do in the first month in terms of reaching the 7 million enrollment goal for the first enrollment period? Answer: Very well compared to Mass. Do the math.
106,000 enrollees during the first month / 7 million expected in first enrollment period = 1.51 percent.In other words, even with the flawed website, Obamacare actually did more than 4 times better than it would have if it had only achieved the Mass level of enrollment.
Bottom Line: Don’t panic Obamacare fans. Obamacare isn’t in the enrollment dog house yet and may never be. And, Republicans, don’t count Obamacare out yet. You could be right. Obamacare might not enroll enough people to survive. But, that’s not what the numbers suggest so far. In fact, they suggest just the opposite.I don’t see a train wreck. I see a train slowly leaving the station, just like the pervious Mass train that was this train’s model. And, like the previous train it is going to pick up speed. Who knows. It may get safe and sound to its destination before you even know it. Time will tell.
Check out the following links for more information on Obamacare comparisons to the Mass experience.http://www.ncsl.org/research/health/small-business-health-insurance.aspx