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The Mystery Millions In the Obamacare Total - Health Care Edge

The Mystery Millions In the Obamacare Total

By Sam Baker, Sophie Novack and Clara Ritger


MORE CLARITY ON OFF-EXCHANGE ENROLLMENT: Blue Cross Blue Shield Association says that it has enrolled 1.7 million Americans in ACA-compliant health plans outside the exchanges between October 1 and March 1. The number is the most up-to-date and largest estimate so far that gives insight into how off-exchange enrollment might impact the total number of Obamacare sign-ups. The White House announced that 7.1 million enrolled in private insurance on the exchanges by the March 31 deadline, but there's still a fair amount we don't know. Skeptics have pressed for numbers on how many enrollees have paid their premiums -- current estimates range from 80 to 90 percent -- as failure to do so could result in significantly fewer people getting coverage. However, less attention has been given to the individuals that would boost enrollment -- those signing up directly with insurers and brokers, who are often buying the same plans and part of the same risk pools. And the Blues tally is a good indication that off-exchange enrollment could actually make up for the portion that doesn't end up paying premiums -- and then some.

Read more on what we know about off-exchange enrollment here.

Top Health Care News

OBAMACARE SPECIAL ENROLLMENT DEADLINE IS APRIL 15: Administration officials announced that those who began insurance applications on the exchanges before the March 31 deadline but were unable to finish have until the middle of this month to complete them. (Clara Ritger, National Journal)


HOUSE PASSES BILL CHANGING "FULL TIME" DEFINITION FROM 30 TO 40 HOURS: Rep. Todd Young's Save American Workers Act passed with 18 Democratic votes. President Obama has already said he would veto it if presented with the legislation. (Kristina Peterson, Wall Street Journal)

STATE OFFICIALS CITE TECHNOLOGY PROBLEMS ON HEALTH INSURANCE SITES: Republicans at the hearing raised concerns about wasting taxpayers dollars on failed exchanges. (Robert Pear, New York Times)


OBAMACARE MAY BE RESPONSIBLE FOR 5.4 MILLION NEWLY INSURED AMERICANS: A new Urban Institute study found that the uninsured rate fell from 17.9 percent in September to 15.2 percent in March. (Clara Ritger, National Journal)

  • But exactly how much the law has reduced the number of uninsured is still unknown. (Jonathan Cohn, The New Republic)


OBAMACARE LATE SURGE MAY SIGNAL YOUNG, HEALTHY SIGN-UPS: Insurance analysts and enrollment groups are hoping the big Obamacare turnout in the last few days before open enrollment ended will mean big numbers of young and healthy. They'd always expected the sick to sign up first and those who are healthy and may not need or want the coverage to sign up at the last-minute. (Alex Wayne and Shannon Pettypiece, Bloomberg News)

WHY WOULD SOMEONE SIGN UP FOR OBAMACARE BUT NOT PAY THEIR PREMIUM? There are a few explanations, and people may still pay them. (Jason Millman, Washington Post)

HOW TO TELL WHEN SOMEONE IS MISLEADING YOU ON OBAMACARE: "Every metric out there right now matters—just not in isolation." (Sam Baker, National Journal)

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WILL PREMIUM SPIKES CAUSE ANOTHER ROUND OF OBAMACARE BASHING? "Insurers set their premiums for 2014 based on whom they thought would enroll. If their assumptions were pessimistic, that pessimism is already baked into the plan's rates. And there are clear signs that insurers made much safer bets than the White House did about the mix of young enrollees." (Sam Baker, National Journal)

White House

NETWORKS SNUB OBAMA ON PRIMETIME HEALTH CARE ADDRESS: "Network officials refused to make the kind of accommodation they did previously for the announcement that Osama Bin Laden had been killed, for instance, and Obama was left instead cutting into the much smaller audiences of Ellen and other daytime shows." (Evan McMorris-Santoro, BuzzFeed)

THE LEGALITY OF DELAYING KEY ELEMENTS OF THE ACA: "The recent delays of ACA provisions appear to exceed the scope of the executive's traditional enforcement discretion." (Nicholas Bagley, The New England Journal of Medicine)

GIBBS: EMPLOYER MANDATE WON'T HAPPEN: The former White House press secretary told a crowd in Colorado that he thinks it will be among the first pieces of the law to be scrapped. (Justin Sink, The Hill)


SAME-SEX MARRIED COUPLES ARE NOW ELIGIBLE FOR MEDICARE: HHS announced that same-sex married couples may apply for Medicare benefits for the first time, following the June 2013 Supreme Court decision overturning DOMA. (Sophie Novack, National Journal)

DOCTORS DON'T WANT US TO KNOW HOW MUCH MEDICARE PAYS THEM: The American Medical Association says releasing data can mislead the public into making incorrect decisions about their health care. (Arit John, The Wire)


FDA APPROVES PORTABLE DRUG OVERDOSE TREATMENT: "The device, called Evzio, delivers a single dose of the drug naloxone through a hand-held device to treat someone who has stopped breathing or lost consciousness from an opioid drug overdose. Naloxone is the standard treatment for an overdose, but until now, has been available only in hospitals and other medical settings, when it is often too late for the patient." (Sabrina Tavernise, New York Times)

CDC: E-CIGARETTE POISONING SPIKING: A new CDC report found that the number of calls to a poison control center related to use of e-cigarettes has increased dramatically, from an average of one per month in 2010, to 215 per month so far in 2014, particularly among children. (Neha Sharma, ABC News)


THE HEALTH CARE REFORM WAR WITHOUT END: "This elongated conflict is exposing each side to unpredictable political risks and denying the country a meaningful debate over addressing the law's inevitable flaws and miscalculations." (Ronald Brownstein, National Journal)

MEET THE DYING GIRL WHO TOLD CONGRESS TO STOP THE BULLSHIT: President Obama signed into law the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act, a $126 million increase in pediatric medical research over the next decade. (Ron Fournier, National Journal)

Mental Health and Fort Hood

YOU DON'T HAVE TO SEE COMBAT TO GET PTSD FROM WAR: The American Psychiatric Association found that many members of the military manifested the problems associated with post-traumatic stress disorder. (Matt Vasilogambros, National Journal)

NEW SHOOTING REVIVES OLD QUESTIONS ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH IN THE MILITARY: The tragedy at Fort Hood, the second at the same Army base in five years, raises questions about mental health care. (Daniel Zwerdling, NPR News)

Happening Today

HOUSE VETERANS AFFAIRS COMMITTEE MARKUP: A 9 a.m. gathering of the Health Subcommittee to address pending calendar business.

MEDPAC APRIL MEETING: The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission will meet Thursday and Friday, April 3-4, to discuss items that will lead to its June report to Congress. Friday's schedule begins at 8:30 a.m. with sessions on medication adherence and beneficiary choice.


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