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More signs point to low Obamacare enrollment

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Beltway Confidential,Philip Klein,Barack Obama,Obamacare,Health and Human Services,Healthcare.gov

President Obama's health care program enrolled just 40,000 to 50,000 people through healthcare.gov as of last week, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.

The Obamacare website is supposed to help residents of 36 states enroll in subsidized private insurance policies.

The WSJ report comes on the heels of an analysis of state-level data from Avalere Health, which found that 49,100 had enrolled in 12 states with reporting enrollment numbers.

These numbers suggest that around 100,000 Americans have enrolled nationwide since the exchanges launched on Oct. 1, although the exact number may vary as some states define "enrollment" differently and it isn't clear exactly how it is being defined in the WSJ report.

For instance, to some, enrollment means when somebody picks a plan. But a person isn't technically enrolled until they actually pay the premium.

Either way, this is way off from the Obama administration low-end projection that 500,000 people would enroll in October alone. By the end of November, enrollment is supposed to be 800,000.

The Congressional Budget Office has projected that 7 million will sign up by the end of the enrollment period on March 31.

In order for the exchanges to be economically viable, a critical mass of Americans in each state have to sign up.

Most importantly, enough young and healthy people have to purchase insurance to offset the cost of offering insurance to older and sicker Americans, particularly those with chronic medical conditions.

But Obamacare's mounting technological failures has raised speculation that the people willing to endure the arduous enrollment process are most likely to be those with higher medical costs.

The Obama administration said 40 percent of enrollees needed to be of the young-and-healthy demographic.

In theory, the Obama administration can make up for lost time if the technology problems get resolved soon. But it looks increasingly unlikely that this will be the case.

And though Americans have until March 31 to sign up through the exchanges, they only have until Dec. 15 to register for insurance that kicks in on Jan. 1.

This is especially pressing for Americans whose insurance will be terminated at the end of the year because it doesn't meet Obamacare's requirements.

The Obama administration has said it would release official enrollment numbers sometime this week.

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Author:

Philip Klein

Commentary Editor
The Washington Examiner