With enrollment in the Obamacare exchanges now closed, Democrats and their friends in the media are ebullient…. On closer inspection, however, things seem decidedly less bullish for President Obama’s signature achievement.
Among the many exaggerations and inaccuracies the law’s defenders are touting, five stand out.
• First, they say that premium rates are down. In support of this, liberals cite research from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), but they misinterpret it. In fact, the CBO’s most recent estimate of premiums shows a decline not from what they were in 2013, before the implementation of Obamacare, but rather from what CBO estimated they would be in 2014. Studies from many outlets have shown that rates have gone up since 2013, substantially for many people.
This is no mystery. Obamacare basically outlawed insurance underwriting, so rates must go up as healthy people pay the price for the sick. Insurers, moreover, have also increased deductibles and co-pays and narrowed doctor networks and drug formularies.
• Second, supporters claim that Obamacare exceeded the enrollment target promulgated by the CBO. This is questionable. The CBO last year projected 7 million enrollees, and the Obama administration now gloats that 8 million people selected a plan in the exchanges. But not everybody who selected a plan will pay for it. The best estimate right now is that about 15 percent of initial enrollees are not paying their first premiums. If that holds, paid enrollment will come in slightly under CBO’s 2013 prediction.