Diary

More Fuzzy Math: Admin Included Dental Plans to Boost Obamacare Numbers -- But Didn't Tell Anyone

On the heels of the Gruber scandal, more misinformation has been admitted in regard to Obamacare. Bloomberg has reported that “the Obama administration said it erroneously calculated the number of people with health coverage under the Affordable Care Act, incorrectly adding 380,000 dental subscribers to raise the total above 7 million.”

When pressed about it this week, Health and Human Services clarified the total number of Obamacare plans as actually 6.7 million, a decrease of about 5-6%. “The new count puts enrollment short of a 2013 estimate by the Congressional Budget Office, adopted last year as a goal by the Obama administration, that 7 million people would be enrolled this year. Federal officials said in September they had 7.3 million people enrolled in coverage through new government-run insurance exchanges. They didn’t distinguish between medical and dental plans, breaking from previous practice without notice.”

Prior to, the administration had separated medical from dental when accounting for enrollment figures. Last May, 8 million persons were reported to have signed up for health plans, while dental enrollments were 1.1 million.

Over time, Obamacare enrollment dropped for various reasons. As that happened, HHS decided to mesh the two sets of data in order to keep the numbers looking perkier — but didn’t tell anyone. As Bloomberg reported, by “September, the numbers became less transparent. The Medicare agency’s administrator, Marilyn Tavenner, released a new enrollment figure, obtained from insurance companies participating in the exchanges: 7.3 million people were “enrolled in the health insurance marketplace coverage,” she said at a hearing by the Republican-led Oversight committee.”

So Ms. Tavenner knowingly obfuscated data by referring to ” marketplace coverage” to insinuate health plans, but didn’t explain the coverage included medical and dental figures. I guess technically she wasn’t lying.

But wait, there’s more. This same blurring of numbers and parsing of words was seen again, and as recently as, November 10th. Sylvia Burwell, the HHS Secretary, announced updated Obamacare numbers at a press conference: 7.1 million in October Burwell stated, “That’s the number of people currently enrolled and paying in the marketplace.” These numbers also included dental plans, which again was not disclosed until a few days ago. But again, using the term “marketplace, Burwell made it sound like health plans when really it was both medical and dental. She just didn’t explain that part.

Bloomberg confirmed that “the error was brought to light by Republican investigators for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, using data they obtained from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.” This “erroneous” error was admitted by HHS when asked about the data.