Obamacare Enrollment is Shrinking

After Obamacare’s first open enrollment ended, the Administration stopped releasing enrollment figures. Jed Graham (no relation) of Investors Business Daily has been following the health insurers, and has come to a startling conclusion — Obamacare enrollment is dropping:

The nation’s third-largest health insurer had 720,000 people sign up for exchange coverage as of May 20, a spokesman confirmed to IBD. At the end of June, it had fewer than 600,000 paying customers. Aetna expects to fall to “just over 500,000” by the end of the year.

Cigna (NYSE:CI) said that it expects its individual market customers, including more than 100,000 in the exchanges, to “move from 300,000 down to 280,000 in that range,” Cigna CEO David Cordani said in a conference call.

Other major insurers danced around questions about attrition on recent earnings conference calls, but none denied that it was occurring.

Another data point comes from Washington, the only state that didn’t report sign-ups to HHS until they paid an initial monthly premium. As also pointed out by Charles Gaba of ACASignups.net, the state’s exchange had 164,062 paid enrollees as of April 23. But the state reported 156,155 people enrolled as of June 1.

These are significant drop offs in a short time. I would add that a similar drop off might happen in Medicaid. Obamacare was largely an expansion of Medicaid dependency. Medicaid-eligible people have different incentives than those eligible for subsidized private coverage in Obamacare exchanges. The latter had to sign up during open enrollment, but most did have to pay some share of premium themselves. If they found that premium too hard to finance, they will have dropped out. A Medicaid-eligible person has no financial hurdle to signing up, but he also is not limited by open enrolment. So, a healthy Medicaid-eligible person has little incentive to sign up for Medicaid until he gets sick.

Many millions of Obamacare dollars were spent on sales and marketing, getting people to sign up. Many signed up for Medicaid. As these sales and marketing budgets peter out, so will the interest of Medicaid-eligible people in taking the time necessary to navigate the bureaucracy necessary to enroll.

Comments (9)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Big Truck Joe says:

    It seems to me that Obamacare enrollment is as good as it’s gonna get and anybody who wanted or needed this type of health insurance joined up this first year. So enrollment has essentially plateau’d. Any new enrollees will be minimal at best and any growth will come from transferees from Medicaid. The rest of us are happy with our own employee offered plans. If my assumption proves accurate, that’s a whole lot of money and effort to insure 7-8 million people in a country of 318 million.

    • Buddy says:

      “If my assumption proves accurate, that’s a whole lot of money and effort to insure 7-8 million people in a country of 318 million.”

      I agree! How can Obamacare be a success when less than 3% of the population was enrolled in plans?? And with it plateauing at this rate, I would think its even more disastrous.

    • Dale says:

      That’s the point of Obamacare, help the minority at the expense of the majority.

  2. Perry says:

    No big surprise here. It’s a product many people don’t want for a price they can’t afford.

    • Matthew says:

      Or a product that many people want, which just so happens to be overpriced and limited, reducing their incentive for coverage.

  3. Devon Herrick says:

    Churn is something that many people have assumed would happen all along. It’s common for people to drop their individual coverage — especially if they’re a new enrollee. Aetna found that about 30% are dropping out. I believe that’s consistent with past experience in the insurance industry.

  4. Thomas says:

    Shouldn’t enrollment shrink since officially enrollment was supposed to end March 31st? I thought the deadline was only extended through April to enroll all of the hanger-ons.

    Unless of course people who have been enrolled aren’t paying their premiums and losing coverage that way. That’s another story…

    • John R. Graham says:

      That appears to be the story: “Enrollment” refers to a stock not a flow. That is: If enrollment closed in April and there were no changes since then, enrollment would be frozen at 8.1 million.

      either these people are not paying their premiums or they are going to employer-based benefits. However, people losing employer-based benefits should also be going onto the exchanges.

  5. Jay says:

    The only enrollment in Obamacare that would be attractive to anyone is Medicaid, and even that would be a stretch.