Obamacare Enrollment Is Surging

Website fixes, spike in sign-ups may signal a turnaround for the law.

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 30: Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee about the troubled launch of the Healthcare.gov website October 30, 2013 in Washington, DC. The federal healthcare insurance exchange site has been plagued by problems since its launch on October 1. 
National Journal
Sam Baker and Clara Ritger
Dec. 4, 2013, 6:36 a.m.

Roughly 29,000 people signed up for health in­sur­ance through Health­Care.gov on Sunday and Monday, a source fa­mil­i­ar with the en­roll­ment num­bers con­firmed.

The fig­ures are the strongest in­dic­a­tion yet that the Health­Care.gov re­pair ef­fort is work­ing—and that’s good news for the health care law over­all.

After a dis­astrous launch on Oct. 1, of­fi­cials scrambled to have the site work­ing for the “vast ma­jor­ity of users” by Dec. 1. The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion provided vari­ous bench­marks to de­clare suc­cess on the tech­nic­al end. But the make-or-break met­ric for the web­site—and for Obama­care—is, and has al­ways been, en­roll­ment. And 29,000 en­roll­ments in two days is an un­deni­ably strong turn­around.

The site pro­cessed more en­roll­ments in the first two days of its re­launch than in the en­tire month of Oc­to­ber, when per­sist­ent tech­nic­al prob­lems made it all but un­us­able. Some 25,000 people used Health­Care.gov to sign up for cov­er­age in Oc­to­ber.

Hit­ting 29,000 en­roll­ments over two days helps val­id­ate Demo­crats’ be­lief that de­mand for in­sur­ance is still high, des­pite the bad pub­li­city sur­round­ing the site’s ini­tial launch. Health­Care.gov clocked 1 mil­lion vis­its Monday, but as Oc­to­ber’s ex­per­i­ence proved, traffic is only a good thing if it trans­lates in­to people ac­tu­ally sign­ing up for cov­er­age.

En­roll­ment is still sub­stant­ively be­hind sched­ule, and the ad­min­is­tra­tion has a lot of work to do to make up for lost time. The broken web­site ef­fect­ively shaved two months off the six-month en­roll­ment win­dow, and en­roll­ment in Oc­to­ber was only 20 per­cent of the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ini­tial ex­pect­a­tions.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion ex­pects 7 mil­lion people to sign up, na­tion­wide, by the end of the six-month en­roll­ment win­dow. Sign­ing up 29,000 people every two days would still not be enough to hit that tar­get, but it’s a sig­ni­fic­ant step in the right dir­ec­tion for the White House.

Between the site’s abil­ity to handle large amounts of traffic without crash­ing and the early spike in en­roll­ment, the pro­cess seems to be get­ting back on track. It’s not all the way there, but the ad­min­is­tra­tion says the site will con­tin­ue to im­prove. Also, the White House and its al­lies haven’t yet un­leashed the mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar ad cam­paigns they have planned to pro­mote en­roll­ment.

Health care ex­perts have said that if the site was work­ing well by the end of Novem­ber, the ad­min­is­tra­tion could prob­ably still sign up enough people to make the law’s new in­sur­ance mar­ket­places vi­able.

A crit­ic­al mass of people needs to sign up in each state for the new mar­ket­places to work, and about 35 per­cent of those people need to be healthy and cheap to in­sure.

Ex­perts are ex­pect­ing a spike this month, ahead of the Dec. 23 dead­line to buy cov­er­age that be­gins Jan. 1, and a lar­ger surge in March, to­ward the end of the en­roll­ment win­dow.

What We're Following See More »
TAKING A LONG VIEW TO SOUTHERN STATES
In Dropout Speech, Santorum Endorses Rubio
2 days ago
THE DETAILS

As expected after earlier reports on Wednesday, Rick Santorum ended his presidential bid. But less expected: he threw his support to Marco Rubio. After noting he spoke with Rubio the day before for an hour, he said, “Someone who has a real understanding of the threat of ISIS, real understanding of the threat of fundamentalist Islam, and has experience, one of the things I wanted was someone who has experience in this area, and that’s why we decided to support Marco Rubio.” It doesn’t figure to help Rubio much in New Hampshire, but the Santorum nod could pay dividends down the road in southern states.

Source:
‘PITTING PEOPLE AGAINST EACH OTHER’
Rubio, Trump Question Obama’s Mosque Visit
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE

President Obama’s decision to visit a mosque in Baltimore today was never going to be completely uncontroversial. And Donald Trump and Marco Rubio proved it. “Maybe he feels comfortable there,” Trump told interviewer Greta van Susteren on Fox News. “There are a lot of places he can go, and he chose a mosque.” And in New Hampshire, Rubio said of Obama, “Always pitting people against each other. Always. Look at today – he gave a speech at a mosque. Oh, you know, basically implying that America is discriminating against Muslims.”

Source:
THE TIME IS NOW, TED
Cruz Must Max Out on Evangelical Support through Early March
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE

For Ted Cruz, a strong showing in New Hampshire would be nice, but not necessary. That’s because evangelical voters only make up 21% of the Granite State’s population. “But from the February 20 South Carolina primary through March 15, there are nine states (South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, and North Carolina) with an estimated white-Evangelical percentage of the GOP electorate over 60 percent, and another four (Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, and Missouri) that come in over 50 percent.” But after that, he better be in the catbird’s seat, because only four smaller states remain with evangelical voter majorities.

Source:
CHRISTIE, BUSH TRYING TO TAKE HIM DOWN
Rubio Now Winning the ‘Endorsement Primary’
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Since his strong third-place finish in Iowa, Marco Rubio has won endorsement by two sitting senators and two congressmen, putting him in the lead for the first time of FiveThirtyEight‘s Endorsement Tracker. “Some politicians had put early support behind Jeb Bush — he had led [their] list since August — but since January the only new endorsement he has received was from former presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham.” Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that fueled by resentment, “members of the Bush and Christie campaigns have communicated about their mutual desire to halt … Rubio’s rise in the polls.”

Source:
ARE YOU THE GATEKEEPER?
Sanders: Obama Is a Progressive
1 days ago
THE LATEST

“Do I think President Obama is a progressive? Yeah, I do,” said Bernie Sanders, in response to a direct question in tonight’s debate. “I think they’ve done a great job.” But Hillary Clinton wasn’t content to sit out the latest chapter in the great debate over the definition of progressivism. “In your definition, with you being the gatekeeper of progressivism, I don’t think anyone else fits that definition,” she told Sanders.

×