Topics: Obamacare

Seven unanswered questions about Obamacare

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Politics,White House,Susan Ferrechio,Obamacare,Health Care,PennAve,Healthcare.gov,Health Care Exchanges

Democrats were quick to trumpet the 7.1 million enrollment figure for Obamacare's federal and state exchanges. But critics said that number failed to address many questions about who has signed up and insist that the fate of President Obama's signature domestic initiative is still up in the air.

Here are seven questions that remain unanswered about the health care law:

1. How many young and healthy people signed up?

Tuesday's announcement didn't include those numbers, but according to the latest figures, from March 11, adults aged 18-34 made up about 27 percent of enrollees on healthcare.gov in January and February, short of the 40 percent the administration believes are needed to keep premiums stable by offsetting those who are older and sicker.

2. How many have paid their premiums?

The Obama administration did not officially announce how many of the 7.1 million have actually paid for their new policies, a critical part of the process and a necessary step for coverage to kick in.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told an Oklahoma CBS affiliate Monday that the insurance companies told her between 80 and 90 percent of those who signed up for plans have paid.

3. How many enrollees are subsidized by the government?

The Obama administration has not provided an April tally, but the Kaiser Family Foundation calculated that as of March 1, when 4.2 million had signed up for coverage, 3.5 million people -- 83 percent of all enrollees -- qualified for a total of about $10 billion in annual premium subsidies provided by the federal government. It's an average of about $2,890 per person.

4. How many of the nation’s 30 million previously uninsured are now covered?

The law was intended to eventually enroll everyone who now lacks insurance. As of March 31, about 6.5 million of those who were previously uninsured theoretically have coverage (assuming they pay their premiums), according to some estimates. This number includes up to 2 million new Medicaid enrollees.

Those figures though are still well below projections from the Congressional Budget Office.

5. How many who lost coverage because of Obamacare regulations signed up for new policies?

Reports suggested that millions of Americans would lose coverage because their current plans did not meet the law’s new requirements for minimum benefits. In the face of Obama’s broken promise that consumers could keep current plans despite the health law, the administration granted insurers an extension. Consumers may now keep their current plans into 2017.

Five million have signed up for new plans, according to one estimate from the RAND Corporation, but it is unknown how many of those plans were on healthcare.gov.

6. How much will health insurance premiums go up?

Potentially a lot. Insurers who have spoken privately to industry analysts say the health care exchanges so far are populated by older, sicker and mostly female enrollees who are more expensive to cover. That will drive up the cost of premiums next fall by as much as 24 percent, some predict.

7. Will taxpayers have to bail out insurers?

Meetings are ongoing between health insurance companies and the White House, which is considering extending the taxpayer-backed bailout funds in exchange for insurers keeping premiums from skyrocketing.

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