Regarding that eyebrow-raising "6M last week" rumor from yesterday...

Just to get this out of the way since so many have asked...

April D. Ryan, who broke the awesome scoop about HC.gov enrolling 40K in a single day back on 3/15, reported a very eye-opening claim yesterday: That supposedly total exchange QHP enrollments had already broken the 6 million mark last week:

Sources who do not wish to be identified, contend last week that the ACA enrollment numbers surpassed the six million mark.  A source also says  ”People are swarming to the healthcare.gov website and enrollments are rising.” On Tuesday March 25, 2014 over 1.2 million people visited the healthcare.gov website.  Enrollments have exceeded 60,000 per day since Sunday March 23, 2014.

The White House denied the claim, but her sources insisted that it was true:

12:50 PM UPDATE:  A source close to the ACA reaffirms the numbers have surpassed 6 million as the White House continues to deny. We will update this story as more information becomes available.

Regular site visitors will note that I didn't say a single thing about this yesterday, one way or another (although I did sort of shrug it off in a tweet or two in response to queries about it).

The reason for this is that unless my methodology is very, very wrong and I'm missing some major factor here, it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

The total through 3/01 was 4.242 million. I projected it would hit 5M as of 3/16, which it did. That meant the first half of March ran at around 51,000/day (possibly as high as 53,000/day, since I actually had it at 5.09M by 3/16).

Now, unless the HHS Dept. pulled a fast one and "hoarded" an extra half million enrollments (technically 5.5 million does count as "more than 5M") in order to shock everyone later on, which I find hard to believe, that means that QHPs were at perhaps 5.1 million as of last Monday the 17th. The latest possible date that "last week" could refer to is Saturday the 22nd, or 5 days.

So, in order to hit 6 million by Saturday, it would have to run at a rate of 180,000 per day, for 5 days straight, before the final weekly surge. This would be absolutely insane, given that CoveredCA was just crowing about 39,000 in 2 days this week as a high point (19.5K/day), and CA has consistently made up around 20% of the national total. That would mean a maximum of perhaps 100K/day this week, vs. a "secret" enrollment of 180K/day for 5 days straight last week?

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, as Carl Sagan said. The evidence here are unnamed sources and go in complete contrast to all available evidence. If I'm wrong about this, so be it; I'll be absolutely thrilled to have egg all over my face, since it would mean an extra million or so people have health insurance. But no, I don't buy it.

HOWEVER, I will note something else.

The same paragraph notes that HC.gov enrollments have "exceeded 60K/day since Sunday".

Now, this is interesting, because, as I noted on the 15th, the federal exchange should be enrolling around 76% of the total enrollments at the moment.

If that's correct, and if the "60K/day since Sunday" number is accurate for HC.gov, that means the total enrollments have been running at around:

  • 60K / X = 76 / 100
  • 6M / X = 76
  • 6M / 76 = X
  • X = 78,947

For comparison, my current projection of 6.4M assumes an average March enrollment of 71,800 per day, although that includes the first half of the month, which was running at a lower rate.

If it's true that around 79,000 people per day have been enrolling nationally all of this week, that means that yes, we could indeed have already surpassed the 6 million mark...THIS week.

My current projection has exchange QHPs breaking the 6M mark sometime late today (Thursday) or early tomorrow (Friday), but it's conceivable that we did already pass it late last night or early this morning.