Official ACA Signups: A head's up on the numbers


Time: D H M S

NOTE: This was originally posted over at Daily Kos. I've since ported it over here for archival purposes.

So, yesterday Politico ran this story ahead of next week's release of the first official Obamacare enrollment figures:

Sebelius says Obamacare enrollment 'very low'

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today acknowledged that long-awaited enrollment figures for the rocky first month of Obamacare will be “very low.”
“We intend to give you as much information as we can validate,” Sebelius told a Senate Finance Committee hearing where lawmakers from both parties harshly criticized the rollout and her agency’s lack of foresight about the massive problems. She said the initial batch of enrollment figures being released next week cover “the first month of enrollment” and will include both Medicaid and health plan numbers in the new insurance exchanges.

It will be very interesting to see just how close--or completely dead wrong--my own figures are at

As of this morning, the Week 5 Tally stands at 535,878 Exchange Applications/Enrollments and 1,126,167 Medicaid/SCHIP Expansion enrollments.

Due to the extreme influence of Medicaid signups on both this number as well as the financial health of the Exchange program, starting with Week 5, I'm keeping Medicaid numbers included BUT have decided to start breaking them out separately as best as I can.

HOWEVER, there are some MAJOR caveats:

--The other day Rep. Capps of CA-24 claimed California has 600,000 added to Medicaid, and 227,000 exchange applications. However, the 600,000 "added" to Medicaid appear to simply have been children who have been moved from a different healthcare program into Medicaid; more of a clerical/bookkeeping change than anything. Thanks to ybruti for this catch; if this is the case, you can yank all 600K from the total (it's still good that they're covered, but they don't belong in this particular spreadsheet).

--In addition, New York says they have 200,000 completed applications...and another source claims that at least 27,000 of these are Medicaid. However, it's likely to be more like 140K Medicaid & 60K Exchanges, give or take.

If you take both of the above into account, both numbers change dramatically, to something like:

396,000 Exchange Applications/Enrollments
666,000 Medicaid/SCHIP Expansion

There are two other legitimate/serious ACA-tracking sources that I've found to be pretty reliable: is an openly anti-Obamacare outfit. As such, they're using an extremely strict definition of what "counts": No Medicaid, no SCHIP, no Applications, and they aren't even including the Catastrophic plans (even though those are a 5th option on the paid-for exchanges). They're only counting people who are actually fully signed up/enrolled (and presumably paying) for Gold, Silver or Bronze plans through the exchanges (why they aren't including Platinum plans, I have no idea, though that number is likely to be tiny).

With all of the above caveats, their number as of this morning is only 42,271.

--The Advisory Board Company, on the other hand, doesn't include Medicaid but does claim to break out the Exchange numbers by both Applications and Enrollments.

They put the numbers at 195,000 enrollments out of 485,000applications.

So, it seems to me that the official enrollment numbers that Sebelius announces will be somewhere between 40,000 - 400,000 for the first month.

If it's towards the low end, that sucks...but remember that as long as those 400,000 applications are legitimate, complete and aren't accidentally deleted in a database glitch (or whatever), they will be processed soon.

Just keep this in mind and brace yourselves for the inevitable media/GOP outrage over the puny initial numbers.