Obamacare Is Whatever Obama Says It Is
By Megan McArdle Nov 14, 2013 2:34 PM CT
Well, it’s been a pretty busy couple of days for Obamacare.
First we got the enrollment numbers, except for the one we’d like to know, which is how many people have actually gone through the process of enrolling in a plan. There has been a sort of Talmudic debate over the meaning of the word “enroll” -- should we count folks who had chosen a plan and asked to be invoiced, or should we count only those who paid? Some of the people who enroll will not actually end up paying their premium. However, because premiums for January plans aren’t due until December, counting only those who have already mailed in their check or money order will substantially undercount those who will end up enrolling. Myself, I leaned toward counting those who have enrolled in a plan and requested an invoice for payment. But there were decent arguments on both sides.
The Barack Obama administration resolved this debate by choosing a third metric: They counted everyone who had put a policy in their online shopping cart, even if they hadn’t actually gone ahead and signed up. By this logic, I am the proud owner of 28 items in my Amazon.com cart, including a hot pink laptop case and a fridge mount for an iPad model I don’t even own. And everyone with a Match.com profile is married.
By this expansive definition, they counted 106,185 people who had enrolled in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's exchange plans by Nov. 2. Interestingly, around a third of those people were in one state, California (not entirely surprising, though: It's a big state, with a lot of uninsured people, and their exchange is working OK). A quarter came from the federal exchanges.
How accurate is that number likely to be? It’s hard to tell. The percentage of people putting items in their shopping cart and then not buying them is known in e-commerce as the “abandonment rate,” and on most sites, it’s very high:
continued at link