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11/16/2013 9:26:00 AM
Obamacare enrollment underwhelming in Arizona, nation
President Barack Obama announced steps Thursday aimed at letting people keep their health insurance coverage, which some people have lost because of changes under the health care reform act. The announcement comes as disappointing enrollment numbers under the law were revealed. (Photo courtesy the White House)
President Barack Obama announced steps Thursday aimed at letting people keep their health insurance coverage, which some people have lost because of changes under the health care reform act. The announcement comes as disappointing enrollment numbers under the law were revealed. (Photo courtesy the White House)
Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Prescott, called enrollment during the first month of health insurance exchanges under the Affordable Care Act “dismally low.” (Cronkite News Service photo by Emilie Eaton)
Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Prescott, called enrollment during the first month of health insurance exchanges under the Affordable Care Act “dismally low.” (Cronkite News Service photo by Emilie Eaton)
Numbers, Crunched
The Department of Health and Human Services report tracks the number of people who have submitted applications to determine if they are eligible to enroll in health insurance plans, on both the state and federally facilitated marketplaces. It said that from Oct. 1 to Nov. 2:

Applications completed online

- U.S.: 846,184*

- Arizona: 17,220

Individuals represented by those applications

- U.S.: 1,509,883

- Arizona: 32,897

Total eligible to enroll in a marketplace plan

- U.S.: 1,081,592

- Arizona: 20,741

Eligible to enroll in a plan with financial assistance

- U.S.: 326,130

- Arizona: 7,156

Determined eligible for Medicaid/CHIP by the marketplace

- U.S.: 396,261

- Arizona: 11,339

Pending applications, deemed ineligible or other issues

- U.S.: 201,137

- Arizona: 817

People who have selected a marketplace plan

- U.S.: 106,185

- Arizona: 739

* Does not include another 259,107 paper and call-center applications that were not submitted through the online portal.

BY CHAD GARLAND
Cronkite News Service

WASHINGTON - Only 739 Arizona residents signed up for health insurance in the first month after the troubled health insurance marketplace went online, according to numbers released this week on the centerpiece of the Affordable Care Act.

The Department of Health and Human Services said that 106,185 people nationwide had enrolled between Oct. 1 and Nov. 2, well shy of the 7 million that the Congressional Budget Office has estimated need to sign up in the first year.

And the report said that most of those who did enroll - almost 80,000 people - signed up through state-run websites and not the federally run site, which froze, crashed or had other well-publicized problems after its rollout. Arizona does not run its own site but relies on the federal site.

"I think it's fair to say that the rollout has been rough so far," President Barack Obama said Thursday of the health care reform marketplaces.

His comments came as he announced an extension of the Affordable Care Act's "grandfather clause" that should let millions of Americans keep their current health plans in 2014 or re-enroll in plans that have been canceled because of the law.

Obama promised repeatedly during the push for the law that people would be able to keep their existing health plans if they liked them, but insurers recently started dropping policies that did not meet the tougher standards of the new law.

The president "is taking a lot of heat" over that promise, said Christina Corieri, health-care policy analyst for the Goldwater Institute. She claimed that for every person who has signed up for a new policy so far, another 50 have had their old policies dropped because of the law.

The number who signed up in Arizona, she said, is "incredibly low."

"You could essentially put them all into Gammage Auditorium and you'd still have it over 75 percent empty," Corieri said.

But Cheryl O'Donnell said that she was actually surprised by how high the enrollment numbers are, not how low.

O'Donnell is the Arizona Director for Enroll America, a nonprofit whose mission is to maximize enrollment in health care insurance under the Affordable Care Act. It will take time for the system to get going, she said.

"This was the start of something new," she said. "There's a six-month open enrollment period and I think we knew going into this that people weren't going to do this on Oct. 1."

O'Donnell said it was "encouraging" to see that more than 17,000 applications had been submitted in Arizona through the online marketplace. Those applications represent nearly 33,000 Arizonans seeking health insurance on the federal exchange. And those numbers do not include paper applications that had not been entered online, she said.

"There's still well over 32,000 people that are now ... in the education process" trying to choose the right plan to enroll in, O'Donnell said.

The HHS report also does not include Arizonans who have become eligible for Medicaid under the law and who applied for coverage directly through the state's Health-e-Arizona Plus website, O'Donnell said.

But Corieri said she suspects that the "young healthies" who are needed to keep premiums low by offsetting the costs of covering older and sicker people in the program are not among those who have signed up so far.

"They haven't released full demographics, but the people who need care, who might have been blocked out because of pre-existing conditions, are probably the ones who have signed up," Corieri said, adding that younger consumers are "probably, frankly, frustrated with the technological problems."

That potential concentration of higher-risk consumers in the marketplace is a concern for Rep. David Schweikert, R-Scottsdale, who said it's "still too early to truly understand the cascade effects" that could result if enrollment remains low.

"Actuaries are very concerned that the concentration will result in higher premiums, less access and fewer options," Schweikert said Thursday.

In other words, exactly the opposite of what the law was intended to accomplish.

Schweikert said Republicans, who have been called alarmists for their warnings about the health-care bill, have been "vindicated" by the enrollment numbers released this week.

But Edwin Park, vice president for health at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said the pent-up demand of higher-risk consumers is already "baked into the cake" - the law puts measures in place to compensate for early enrollment of sicker people.

The success of the law cannot be determined from the results of the first 30 days and could take years to be fully realized, he said, with "steady-state enrollment" in the marketplace plans not expected until 2017 or later.

But Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Prescott, isn't reserving judgment.

"The numbers are dismally low," Gosar said. "This is a flawed program, a flawed process ... It won't work and America will rise up and say, 'No more.'"


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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Article comment by: M J

tick tick tick
4 days and the wake up for ☭ bamacare's website 2.0 to roll out....
$600 Million dollars and counting...
ain't ya glad you pay all those taxes
tick tick tick


Posted: Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Article comment by: Danny W.

I got a letter saying that our current monthly premium will no longer exist after January 1, 2014.
The monthly premium was $585 for my wife and 2 kids.
Our new premium will now be $1,148. An extra $563.
Trust me, we are not rich. I have a used car that is good on gas, we don't have a fancy house, the kids are not in private school, and we don't take vacations to Hawaii. (I wish)
We both voted for President Obama, both times, and believed in what he was trying to do, but this really hurts.
Hopefully I can pick up some overtime.
I'm sorry I voted for him.


Posted: Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Article comment by: @ zina aodisho- --

here you go...

Yavapai County Community Health Services
Address:
51 Brian Mickelsen Parkway

Cottonwood AZ 86326 (map it)

Phone:
(928) 583-1000 (main)

Office Hours:
8AM To 5 PM Monday Through Friday

Web:
http://chcy.info

Email:
web.health@yavapai.us

Helps With:
Application Assistance



Posted: Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Article comment by: zina aodisho

I want to know how to apply for Obama's care and what is the insurance name is it affordable care act ?? or I can just write Obama care here in AZ because I have no health insurance at all and I really need one .

Posted: Saturday, November 23, 2013
Article comment by: william gauslow

to all those who want this country to fail.

Posted: Friday, November 22, 2013
Article comment by: muddog A

Liberalism ideas so good they have to force them on the people

Posted: Thursday, November 21, 2013
Article comment by: M J

I'm jealous...

"Lies, damn lies, and Obamacare."

Wish I had thought of that one...

☭ bamacare
EPIC FAIL


Posted: Thursday, November 21, 2013
Article comment by: M J

Now this is funny!
Miles Davis 3 writes about his experiences signing up for ☭ bamacare
and right on cue... here come the howlin' and squeeeeelin' liberal horde!
Defend what you say.... they squeeeeeeeel
One dimwit says - prove that ☭ bamacare is worse
One imbecile says - MD3 is paranoid because he doesn't want to spend the money
One dunce says - ☭ bamacare is better coverage... without knowing anything about MD3's old policy
And one simpleton says - stop peddling a bike

A subsidy they squeeeeel... as they roll around in slop
go get U'Rself a subsidy....
In other words... have someone else pay your way in life
set aside any pride you might have squeeeeeeeeels one

Are they desperate...? you better believe it
but there has got to be a better way to describe them then just desperate ... the dictionary says:
very sad and upset because of having little or no hope
feeling or showing despair
a person who is frightened and in need of help
dangerously reckless or violent as from urgency or despair

Yeah... those will do for now


Posted: Thursday, November 21, 2013
Article comment by: @ Hy Phen II

"...for every story that is like yours there are multitudes more from those that can finally get coverage and start paying for it."

Really? Show me the numbers. Last I heard there were a bit more than 100K signups and millions of cancellations. And for those who think things are bad now, wait until the employer mandate kicks in after the next election.

(BTW, who are the "we" who "found catastrophic plans for $130 dollars?" Don't such plans replace cancelled plans for young, healthy adults that were cheaper?)

As for the ridiculous repetition of the old Democrat talking point: "We pay for the uninsured who use ER," who do think will pay for the previously-uninsured who get subsidized care? Do you really think those people were treated by ER doctors?

Only about 16.5% of ER visits in 2010 were by uninsured patients. Of those ONLY 1.5% DIDN'T PAY for their care. The other 15% PAID MORE than is paid by Medicaid, Medicare, and insurance companies.

Lies, damn lies, and Obamacare.


Posted: Thursday, November 21, 2013
Article comment by: Bill Bassett

Miles, I sincerely hope you wear a helmet when you are cycling those 200 miles each week because the odds go up with each passing mile that you will take a spill. Perhaps a serious accident or maybe just a skinned knee kind of thing but if you end up at the ER, with a broken bone or head injury, having dropped all insurance, you could be in a real bad spot. I wish you well because why should I pay for some self indulgent, narcissistic, risk taking....I can't say it.

I enrolled over the phone, the only problem was that the first packet of papers I got in the mail were printed in Spanish. Kinda funny.


Posted: Thursday, November 21, 2013
Article comment by: Wacka Wacka

@Miles Davis III

Could you share the benefits of those two policies side-by-side?
Could you highlight how the 1st policy was better - besides the price.

Are you actually complaining about having to pay your hard earned money for a policy that actually covers something as opposed to paying that money into a plan that pays nothing?

Or is this just noise?


Posted: Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Article comment by: M J

hummm....
**sniff sniff**

the posts from ... E.M. SHORT and I've tried to enroll a few times but Haven't been able to...

smell like they came from the same person...

go away drone..


Posted: Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Article comment by: M J

☭ bamacare

epic fail


Posted: Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Article comment by: @MD3rd- using the Healthcare.gov website- --

and the basic info you provided we found catastrophic plans for $130 dollars without any subsidy. if you make between $11,490 to $45,960 you do qualify for a subsidy that could lower your costs as well. Unless you are too proud to accept it? much less than the $260 you quoted.

for every story that is like yours there are multitudes more from those that can finally get coverage and start paying for it.

while you may think there is no reason for you to have coverage- just wait until you have a mishap while biking that 200 miles per week and end up in the ER and we all get to pickup the tab because you refused coverage on principal.

its called risk pool and it's basic math- not a government conspiracy.

the new insurance policies even cover mental health issues- you may need to get that paranoia looked at and now it's covered!


Posted: Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Article comment by: Miles Davis III

I am 26, unmarried, don't smoke, don't drink, bike atleast 200 miles a week and am self employed. My BCBS plan, which cost $86 was cancelled, They can give me "Better" coverage for $261. Obamacare is nothing more than cost shifting, making young healthy people pay for old sick peoples healthcare. I am NOT going to do it, and neither are any of my friends. The fine is less that 1 months premium. Why should I pay for someone who smoked, drank and drugged their entire life. Believe me, until the Obamacare police show up at my door, I am not buying..


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