Showpiece California Obamacare Program Failing
by Ben Shapiro 23 Dec 2013, 11:09 AM PDT
The state of California has been touted by the media as the leading indicator of the possible success of Obamacare. Having enrolled some 53,510 people in the first three days of last week, California’s pace of enrollment is accelerating, despite the state’s tepid initial enrollment numbers of just 109,296 enrollments from October 1, until November 30. A large part of that acceleration is no doubt due to the fact that December 23 marks the end of the enrollment period for coverage beginning on January 1.
But the problems extend far beyond number of enrollments in California. In the state, just 21 percent of those enrolled through December 7 were aged 18-34 – precisely the portion of the population that President Obama needs to sign up to subsidize the Obamacare scheme. The new catastrophic plans being presented for young people represent just 1% of plans chosen by those enrolling. And of those who signed up through December 7, only 47% actually bought a private insurance plan, meaning that the majority signed up for Medicaid, which is actually a simple cost to the state with no inflow of cash from those who enroll.
Meanwhile, even those who want to enroll have been locked out by the failing California technological system. The Los Angeles Times reports, “The state's three call centers have been swamped, plagued by average wait times of 30 minutes, with many consumers unable to get through. California is short of enrollment counselors who can assist people in person.” And thanks to paperwork failures, the state is now encouraging those who have enrolled to start sending checks to their insurance companies before receiving invoices. On the last day of enrollment, the lines at Covered California are busy.
And Covered California has had a series of privacy mishaps as well. Thanks to consumers failing to fill in their full applications, Covered California has handed out enrollee contact information to third party insurance agents in possible violation of law. Just a few days ago, Covered California sent out flawed eligibility notices to almost 114,000 households, too.
California will have to enroll some 700,000 people by March in order to hit its marks. If those enrollees are disproportionately Medicaid enrollees, the system will not be sustainable. California officials, despite their outward bravado, must be nervous.