Yes, Health Exchange Enrollments Are Low, But Do Republicans Have a Better Plan?

It’s been over a month now since the health care insurance marketplaces opened online, and both supporters and opponents have been desperately waiting to find out exactly how many Americans were able to enroll, guaranteeing they will be covered by insurance as of January 1, 2014.

The numbers at first glance aren’t very good. Just over 100,000 uninsured managed to purchase plans, far less than the 500,000 that the Obama administration hoped there would be at this point. But that number ignores the more optimistic news that nearly 850,000 applications have been completed, which would cover 1.5 million newly ensured Americans.

Two big numbers will be hammered by those who have opposed the Affordable Care Act every step of the way — that less than 110,000 people have been able to complete their applications and that only a quarter of them purchased insurance via the federal health care exchange. However, the fact that the number in the federal exchange is so minuscule should surprise no one. The site was glitch-ridden and had constant accessibility issues, in part because it couldn’t handle the massive traffic sent to it, but also because it was pushed live before it was ready. Those who would be using the federal exchange also would be residents of the 36 states that refused to create their own state-based market, as well as states that refused to expand Medicare eligibility, a key factor in allowing many to be able to afford the new insurance premiums.

In comparison, while there were only 27,000 completed applications on the federal exchange, there were three times as many applicants on roughly one dozen state exchanges. Minnesota itself enrolled nearly 11,000, thanks to both a working website, Medicaid expansion and some of the lowest insurance rates in the country.

The administration says that they do still believe that by the end of November the website will be working “smoothly,” which will enable many more people to enroll and be covered for January 1. That hasn’t caused a moment’s pause for the GOP, who immediately jumped on the public numbers as another sign that the Affordable Care Act should be shelved.

“[T]his report is a symbol of the failure of the president’s health care law. It is a rolling calamity that must be scrapped,” Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner told Fox News.

Republicans have long been clamoring for the exchanges to be dismantled, but now Democratic allies are starting to murmur that changes should be made as well. A number of high profile Democrats, including former President Bill Clinton, have begun urging the administration to allow those who are insured to keep their insurance, even if their plans don’t cover all of the basic care required by the reform overhaul in the Affordable Care Act. For some, that would keep them paying for what is essentially no coverage at all, as well as allow insurance companies to continue denying those with preexisting conditions, charging extra based on gender, and the myriad of other unfair business practices that the ACA was meant to address.

Now, the administration, under intense pressure from both parties, has responded with a new plan to allow all insurance plans to “grandfather” in for another year, even if those plans don’t cover all the essential health care elements under the new reform. States who are running their own exchanges will get to decide individually whether or not to allow these grandfathered plans to be optional within their own borders.

As the GOP uses the newest enrollment numbers to justify their war on affordable and fair insurance coverage, it’s important to remember that three years and 46 “defund Obamacare” stunts later, there still has yet to be any introduction of an alternative way to reform health care, expand insurance to the uninsured, or protect Americans from being crippled financially simply because they became ill, had an accident, gave birth or got old.

And obviously, they never will.

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Jim Ven
Jim Ven6 months ago

thanks for the article.

David C.
David C3 years ago

@David F "The Republicans had, and have terrific plans that would actually work while keeping the Government out."

So true. Obamacare is awfully similar to the Heritage Dole-Chaffee plan of 1993. It's a commentary on the sad state of the current R party that they made no constructive suggestions on Obamacare - merely passed endless repeal resolutions.

There can be little doubt the current R party favors the most inefficient bureaucratic health delivery system in the world, wants to keep a pool of uninsured to reduce demand on physician time, think it's cool that most bankruptcies are caused by medical bills. Those features are the hallmarks of FREEDOM.

Robert H.
Robert Hamm3 years ago

HAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAA The State Media. So what part of the Media isnt state run David. And does that include all books written that dont toe the conservative line??? Hell THIS is a republican plan. Its modeled after Romney care.

Mary B.
Mary B3 years ago

David F... where are they then?......

Robert H.
Robert Hamm3 years ago

There will BE health care reform no matter who is in the whitehouse. WHEN is the question……not IF.

Robert H.
Robert Hamm3 years ago

The two warring corporate sides have US stuck and being crushed in the middle. Obama has very little power in this process. he is mostly doing damage control as best he can. You can blame Obama all you want. He is an easy target. But the people on K street are driving this war. Sooner or later there will be a victor or we will have single payer because neither side is going to give up the war. It wouldnt matter who was in the whitehouse. This war was coming. Obama simply happened to be the one to draw the straw. Presidents are allowed to hav a few pet prjects. MOST of the platform is driven by the Republican chairs and the democratic chairs. Presidents are there to sell what the party platform wants sold and implemented.

Even though I hated Bush I was smart enough to realize HE wasnt smart enough to dream up the platofrm himself. The project for a New American Century was written before Bush was ever dreamt of as a President. And PNAC was the entire Middle East plan. I read the orignal plan which you cant even find onlimne anymore it is so scrubbed and redacted. We Gor NOTHING Pnac wanted. In fact the entire ME plan has been a complete and total failure.
Be that as it may. Bush didnt draw up the plan. The republican latform did. BUsh simply implimented it. Obama didnt dream up the health care reform. He was assigned to get a health care reform plan implemented that certain corporate entities pressured tthe government to implement. There WILL be

Robert H.
Robert Hamm3 years ago

Ellen, the system we suffer under now was created by a business model that worked well for everyone back in the 60s through the 80s. The shit started fallong apart. Once the corporations grew and grew and grew and got more power thay started chafing att Pansions and healthcare. Once the Nafta and cafta came through that spelled the doom. They didnt have to pay for any of this stuff anywhere but here and they hated it. Sinc them many of the huge corps have been “conferring” with the government to reform the system.

THe haklth insurers took full advantage of their leverage during all tht time and jacked the prices odf everything through the roof. So did hospitals etc. The problem is…..even though the health care system liked the current system the corps that had to pay for it were sick of it. They wanted out. Obama didnt dream up health care reform. It has been tried a large number of times long brfore he was in any elected office. This wasn handed to him by the Democratic chair to ramrod through. The health care insurers are tremendously powerful and have a tremendous lobbying team and media machine. The right refused to even talk about Obama’s first proposal. So he went to the insurance companies and tried to hammer out a compromise they would accept. They have done everything they can to screw the plan since. And what THEY havent dreamt up the Republocans have. And its ALL being funded by the health care industry. TWO warring corproat

Ellen Gaston
Ellen Gaston3 years ago

David C.

1) Semantics over the term "run" matter none. The corrupt IRS having anything to do with healthcare, the fines and subsidies, does not sit well with me or most Americans.

2) The insurance companies "have no idea of the groups the will insure." Well why the hell don't they? Oh, that's right. Nobody read the law. They were all for the law when they anticipated 30 million new potential enrollees. Now that more are dropping out or going on Medicaid than are signing up, Obama's broken promises will bribe their protests away with tax dollars. How convenient.

Being that I filed medical insurance and did credentialing for a surgical group for 14 years, I believe I am as qualified as anyone to "spout off." The tax dollars you mention going to unreimbursed E/R visits is minimal. Our surgeons never got a dime of tax dollars for hundreds of thousands of dollars of work. They had to write off an exorbitant amount of unreimbursed work, often from illegal aliens. The hospitals may get tax dollars, I have no idea, but the doctors eat it.

If you are fine with ObamaCare, good for you. You got a system you are happy with, administered by institutions you trust and medical care, doctors and hospitals you get to keep at a cheaper price from a president whose back you clearly have. You must feel like you've won the lottery.

Robert H.
Robert Hamm3 years ago

OH they wont care about another state. Their atttitude is I can always leave a state who does this. Like they would leave their family and job and loved ones for something that stupid

Rainbow W.
.3 years ago

correction: but this is definitely interesting.