During the recent congressional hearings on the healthcare.gov roll-out Republicans grilled HHS on a number of things, but one thing they kept asking was how many people had enrolled. HHS kept saying the numbers would be available in mid-November. Incredulous, Republicans asked why the numbers weren’t available now. To understand what’s behind this kerfuffle, it’s important to understand what the enrollment numbers mean.
First it’s important to understand that the number of the majority of self-insured individuals and families is ephemeral They may be unemployed or employed by a company that doesn’t provide health insurance. The rest are self-employed, early retirees, etc.
For most who shop for big ticket items, and health insurance is a big ticket item, a little comparison shopping is in order before you buy. So it’s not surprising that October numbers are meaningless. And then there’s those of us who tend to procrastinate. The deadline for those who want coverage to start on the first of January December 15th. The deadline for the uninsured is March 15th. Enrollment numbers at those dates are meaningful. The rest are meaningless. So from this, we can only assume that the kerfuffle is purely political. If low early enrollment numbers are reported, then it’s something the ACA opponents will use, even though it’s meaningless. The Administration undoubtedly has figured this out, hence their refusal to release early enrollment numbers.