« 77 Florida hospitals fall short in Medicare's quality rating program | Main | A handy tool lets you track states' Obamacare enrollments »

The real reason the Obamacare enrollment numbers are low


If so many more people filled out applications on their state or federal healthcare marketplace than enrolled in a health plan -- a million applied versus 100,000 enrolled, give or take -- it might have something to do with the fact that the first month's premium payment isn't due until Dec. 15th to have insurance by Jan. 1. 

Which would you rather do: Pay a bill before it's due, or on time?

According to a Wall Street Journal Marketplace report, procrastination may have as much to do with Obamacare's October enrollment numbers as website problems. Historically, health insurance has had an uneven enrollment pattern: A small percentage of people apply at the beginning of open enrollment, with a mad rush at the end, WSJ explains.

While acknowledging the impact of Healthcare.gov's poor performance on the low enrollment numbers, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a press conference Wednesday, "Insurance is different from buying a toaster. I think what we saw is a mass people visited the site multiple times before they made a decision. We had a lot of people wanting to start an application and find out about a subsidy." 

Will Obamacare convert 100 percent of its applicants to health insurance buyers? Probably not. But Sebelius said she's not worried.

In the first month of open enrollment, Healthcare.gov had 26.8 million unique visitors and more than three million calls; 975,407 applications despite a broken website; and 106,000 people enrolled, with or without paying the first month's premium. 

In California whose state-run health exchange ran more smoothly than the feds' Healthcare.gov, 35,374 people enrolled in October, and 370,000 people have begun the enrollment process, according to state officials. 

To a product marketer, those numbers might not look that bad at all. 



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

The comments to this entry are closed.