The Affordable Care Act kicked off its first month of open enrollment in October 2013, and by any fair measure, it was a bit of a disaster. The website didn’t work, and by the month’s end, only 106,185 consumers signed up for insurance through an exchange.
Republicans not only celebrated, they also openly mocked the system, highlighting a variety of sports venues with more than 106,185 seats. This was all the proof the right needed – American consumers had no interest in “Obamacare” and the Affordable Care Act itself was “hurtling toward failure.”
All of a sudden, the right isn’t laughing anymore.
More than 11 million people signed up or renewed for health insurance on the state and federal exchanges this year, the White House announced Tuesday. More than a million people signed up in the last nine days of open enrollment, which ended Sunday, the White House said.“It’s working a little better than we anticipated,” President Barack Obama said in video posted on Facebook.
A total of 11.4 million Americans enrolled for coverage through an ACA marketplace, well ahead of the 10.3 million enrollees the Obama administration projected before this year’s open-enrollment process began. This total, though impressive, does not include the millions of additional Americans who are now covered through Medicaid expansion or young adults who have insurance through their family’s plan thanks to the law’s consumer protections.
Of the 11.4 million, 8.6 million received coverage through healthcare.gov – the consumers whose coverage is jeopardized by the King v. Burwell case at the Supreme Court.
Also note, this number is likely to change a bit, though we’re not sure in which direction. Some of the 11.4 million will fail to pay their premiums and will end up losing this coverage. This happened last year, when enrollment totals dipped from about 8 million to a little over 7 million.
On the other hand, the total may increase in April if, as suspected, the administration re-opens a special enrollment period in April, helping uninsured consumers avoid a tax penalty.
But while that plays out, let’s not miss the forest for the trees here. The Affordable Care Act is working beautifully. By most metrics, it’s exceeding expectations and making a world of difference for families, communities, businesses, and budgets.
The list of successes is so long, it’s hard not to laugh at Republicans who stick their heads in the sand and pretend the system is failing. The law has quickly improved the uninsured rate while producing impressive results on premiums, customer satisfaction rates, the lowest increase in health care spending in 50 years, the growing number of insurers who want to participate in exchange marketplaces, the reduced financial stress on families, the efficacy of Medicaid expansion, the efficacy of the medical-loss ratio, the reduced medical errors system-wide, and as of last night, the soaring enrollment totals.
For the most part, the Republican response to these developments is to play make believe and pretend the successes don’t exist.
And in an unfortunate twist for many, the successes may no longer exist if Republicans on the Supreme Court gut the law later this year.