Under fire since October 1st, the Obama Administration has finally announced the figures from the first month of the enrollment period for Americans to obtain health insurance in advance of the individual mandate becoming active in 2014. Under the mandate, Americans with incomes above 133% of the federal poverty level must purchase insurance, either through their employer or through a online health insurance exchange. 36 states have chosen to forgo creating an exchange specifically for their state and are directing those without health insurance to the federal exchange designed by CMS. The first month of the federal exchange has been nothing short of a distater, with widespread tech glitches and only a fraction of visitors actually being able to view and purchase an insurance policy on the website.
Through November 1st, only 106,185 people have signed up for health insurance plans through the Obamacare exchanges across the country, administration officials said in the first official update of enrollment since the law’s troubled Oct. 1 launch. Nearly 25% of those people, or 27,000, came in through the flawed HealthCare.gov site. The bulk of the signups came through the state-run exchanges, most of which are generally operating much more efficiently than the federal site. These numbers are well short of the Obama administrations projections of 500,000 in the first month. It will become increasingly more difficult for the Obama administration to continue with their enforcement of the individual in 2014 if Americans are not able to view, let alone purchase, health insurance through the federal exchange until December.
The lone bright spot for the Obama administration is the number of Medicaid eligible Americans that have signed up for Medicaid coverage in their state. An estimated 392,261 people were deemed eligible for coverage under Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program under the law during the same monthly period. The Medicaid interest far outweighs interest in the private insurance plans so far.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, state Medicaid programs, whether expanding their enrollment criteria or not, will see dramatic increases in enrollment as the Affordable Care Act continues toward implementation. More Medicaid recipients means more opportunity for providers. However, it also means Medicaid programs will be looking for increased efficiencies, mainly in the form of reimbursement cuts, single source contracts for commodity type supplies and a shift to more managed care organizations that will manage payment of DMEPOS claims.