This week is ACASignups.net's 4th Anniversary! Help me keep it going another four years.
On October 11, 2013, I posted a diary over at Daily Kos citing CNBC report which made it sound like over 84,000 people had managed to enroll in healthcare policies via the ACA exchanges in the first week and a half, in spite of the massive technical problems at HealthCare.Gov and some of the state exchanges.
It would later turn out that the numbers cited in the article were pretty misleading; while a few states which ran their own exchange websites were indeed off to a good start, some of the data only referred to applications (not actual plan selections), while the numbers out of the main website (HealthCare.Gov) were pathetic at first due to the technical mess (it turned out only six people actually slogged their way through the entire process at HC.gov on Day One).
One passage in that diary would prove to be prescient, however:
Seriously, though, HHS should really start releasing the official (accurate) numbers of actual signups for all 50 states (or at the very least, the 36 states that they're responsible for) on a daily--or at least, weekly--basis. I don't care if it's a pitifully small number. 100,000? 10,000? 100? 10? Even if it's in single digits, release the damned numbers. Be upfront about it. Everyone knows by now how f*** up the website is, so be honest and just give out the accurate numbers as they come in.
Besides, that'll make it all the more impressive when those numbers start to (hopefully) skyrocket over the next 2 1/2 months.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but that diary would mark the launch of something much bigger than I ever intended.
Two days later I registered ObamacareSignups.net (later ACASignups.net) and announced my intentions via another diary:
OK, given that the HHS Dept. is not releasing any actual, official ACA/Obamacare signup numbers until a month has passed, I've decided to launch a simple website devoted to tracking the numbers as they're reported by the states running their own exchanges, as well as other reputable sources.
I eventually expanded ACASignups.net from just a spreadsheet and graph to a fully-featured blog/data analysis site in late early January 2014. Needless to say, I analyze and blog about far more than just "how many people have signed up" these days.
My work eventually caught the attention of major media outlets and has been cited and used as a resource ever since by media outlets spanning the ideological spectrum including the Washington Post, Forbes, Bloomberg News, Vox.com, MSNBC, the New Republic, USA Today, the CATO Institute, National Review Online and The New York Times among others, as well as citations in prominent medical journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine and The Lancet. I’ve even managed to get formally cited in U.S. Senate testimony (bonus: this is likely the first time the phrase “Screw your base”has appeared in the Congressional Record).
I've been operating ACASignups.net for nearly 4 years now. It started out as a nerdy hobby thing in my spare time, but quickly overtook my life. I always planned to shut it down after the first Open Enrollment Period ended back in April 2014...and then in March 2015...and again in 2016. Year after year, people clamored for me to keep it going one more year.
At this point a year ago I really planned on winding things down as of around April 2017. My reasoning was simple: If Hillary Clinton succeeded Barack Obama as President, there probably wouldn't be that much ongoing interest in my work here. After all, I figured, it's not like there are websites devoted to breathlessly tracking Social Security enrollments in real time. After four years, I assumed that interest in the site would drop off enough that it would be time to archive the site and refocus on my day job. Yes, that's right: I have a day job as a freelance website developer. I know that's hard to believe given how much time I spend on ACA/healthcare matters, but it's true...and frankly, I've been increasingly neglecting that business more and more of late, right when I should have been building it back up again.
Needless to say, that's not how things played out. Instead, interest in the site and the work I do here to crunch numbers, analyze data and educate the public about the consequences of healthcare policy changes has instead become higher than it has since that first crazy Open Enrollment Period over 3 years ago.
Until now, I've received support for my work here through a combination of banner ads and one-time donations via PayPal and GoFundMe, and I'm eternally grateful to those who've helped out, but if I'm going to continue working on this site, analyzing healthcare data, debunking fake/misleading claims and educating the public about how the ACA works, the real problems it has, how to fix them and where we should go from here, I need to have a more stable, consistent source of support. That's where Patreon comes in.
If you're not familiar with Patreon, it's pretty simple. Instead of making a one-time pledge/donation the way that you do with fundraising sites like KickStarter or GoFundMe, with Patreon you pledge to make a small monthly donation on an ongoing basis. The pledges officially start at $5/mo, but you can choose as little as $1/mo if you prefer; every bit helps!
Here's an excellent, in-depth article about Patreon over at The Verge. It's similar to a subscription-only site, but without the limitations--all content on ACASignups.net will still be available to all visitors, it's just that you'd be supporting me over at Patreon, where I'll also be adding some additional content/analysis there as well. For those who pledge higher support levels, I'll be experimenting with a few more bells & whistles like the occasional podcast and/or livestream Q&A, that sort of thing. (Of course, if you'd prefer to stick with a one-time donation, the PayPal/GoFundMe routes are also still available!)
Anyway, check it out and please consider becoming a patron today!