In which the Daily Caller claims 12.5% = 25%.

Someone just brought this piece from the right-wing Daily Caller to my attention:

Florida Obamacare Enrollment Total Plummets By A Quarter

Florida’s Obamacare enrollment is now over 220,000 lower than the Obama administration’s most recent tally, according to a report from the state insurance department. 

The Obama administration hasn’t released updated Obamacare enrollment statistics since May, when the Department of Health and Human Services put the number of Florida sign-ups at 983,775 — but the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation says that now, just 762,723 Floridians have health insurance through the exchange.

OK, stop right there. Yes, it's true that the most-recent HHS report had enrollments at 983,775, but that was as of April 19th, not "May". Minor error, I agree, but important in the context of what we're talking about there. OK, go on...

The state insurance department issued a report this week including updated exchange enrollment, based on rate filings from state health insurers. By June 2014, the number of Obamacare enrollees in Florida was almost a quarter lower than the Obama administration’s sign-up numbers just one month before.

OK, stop again. What does "by June" mean? June 1st? June 30th? The article doesn't say. The source article, from the South Florida Business Journal, only states the timing as "when they filed for their new rates in June" which doesn't help much. I'll split the difference and assume that the filings were done in mid-June; let's call it around June 19th, making it an even 2 months from the 4/19 date.

Also, 762,723 / 983,775 = 77.5%, or a drop of 22.5%. I suppose if you really stretch you can call that "A Quarter" but really, that's off by 2.5 percentage points, which, again, is kind of important here.

Anyway. OK, yep, that's kind of steep, except that...

Insurance department spokesman Harvey Bennett told the South Florida Business Journal that the enrollment numbers are lower than the Obama administrations because some sign-ups never paid their first premiums and others may have dropped out afterwards. A portion of the federal tally could also have been duplicate enrollments, Bennett said.

OK, so once again, this includes the appx. 10% or so of enrollees who never paid their first premium anyway. I'm not saying this is a good thing, but again, that's already pretty much baked into the equation.

So, we're not talking about a 25% drop in paid enrollments; we're talking about a 12.5% reduction...literally half as many as the Daily Caller implies in their headline.

Now, this is over a 2 month period, which means that the net attrition rate in Florida was about 6.3% per month.

On the one hand, this is indeed quite a bit higher than the 2-3% rate that I've been assuming.

On the other hand, just yesterday I reported that Maryland's net attrition rate has only been 0.33% since the end of July (and is actually still up 18% since mid-April). Since the 4/19 total is the basis for comparison, that's kind of important.

Meanwhile, Washington State had previously reported an attrition rate of around 6.2% over 2 months, or 3.1% per month.

Now, Florida's enrollment numbers are obviously much larger than either Washington or Marylands. If other large states like Texas and California are experiencing similar rates to Florida, then sure, it's worth re-evaluating the situation. On the other hand, there's still not nearly enough data to come to any conclusions.

Plus, again, just because someone is dropping their ACA QHP doesn't mean that it's a bad thing, since most of them are likely gaining employment with benefits, aging into Medicare and so forth.

For example, as I've noted before, 25% of the 8.02 million who enrolled nationally were between 55-64 years old at the time, suggesting that around 2.5% of them were 64...which means that around 100,000 (1.25%) are likely to turn 65 in the first half of this year, moving onto Medicare. In Florida alone, that would equate to over 12,000 people...and that's assuming that Florida's 64-year old population is typical of the national average. Somehow I suspect that FL's demographics in that area are slightly higher than the norm. If, say, 14,000 Floridian enrollees turned 65 in the first half of 2014, that's 6.3% of the total "drop" right there.

I should also note one other interesting item about mixing together the "How many have PAID????" issue with the "How many are DROPPING COVERAGE???" issue: If one is larger, the other is smaller.

I've been estimating the total (eventual) number of 1st month paid enrollments as being around 90%. If this is accurate for Florida, that means that another (net) 12.5% dropped their coverage over the next 2 months.

However, if the nay-sayers were correct about the payment rate in Florida "only" being, say, 85%, guess what? That would mean that only about 7.5% dropped their coverage as of late June (or around 3.8% per month...still a bit higher than I've estimated, but not terribly so).

In other words, you can subtract the unpaid enrollees altogether, and if you don't think someone receiving coverage for a few months should "count" you can (I suppose) subtract those who drop their coverage later on...but you can't subtract the unpaid enrollees twice.

So, out of the 221,052 difference, the breakdown appears to be along the lines of:

  • around 99,000 never paid their first month
  • around 14,000 turned 65 & moved to Medicare
  • around 108,000 either gained a job with benefits, married someone with coverage, moved onto (traditional) Medicaid, joined the military, died (hey, it does happen)...or, yes, either refused to/couldn't afford to continue paying or were double-counted in the first place.

Those last 2 items (refused/couldn't pay or double-counted) are the only ones which anyone should be making a fuss over...and even then, as I've noted repeatedly, just because someone "only" has coverage via the ACA exchanges for a few months doesn't mean you should ignore them...but we don't know the breakdown of that 108K figure.