Since many people only learned of their tax penalty for not getting health insurance in 2014 when they were doing their taxes this year, and because Obamacare is so confusing in general, the federal government authorized a special extended enrollment period for both the federal exchange, the District of Columbia’s exchange, and the exchanges of 11 states. Monday, Healthcare.gov took to Twitter to announce the final tally for the federal exchange:
From March 15 to April 30, 147,000 consumers signed up for coverage through http://t.co/eTfU7hSMWR using the tax special enrollment period.
— HealthCare.gov (@HealthCareGov) May 19, 2015
That 147,000 looks like a respectable number, until you realize just how many remained uninsured at the end of 2014. Per the Kaiser Foundation’s estimate, about 30 million were uninsured, and around 11 million had signed up for plans on the exchanges. That 147,000 in new enrollees is barely going to make a dent in the number of uninsured remaining.
When we add the numbers from the state exchanges in, that obviously beings the total up, but nothing underscores how pathetic the interest in the special enrollment period was than looking at some of the numbers from them. From CNBC:
The best-performing state that released numbers for special tax season enrollment was California, whose exchange had signed up about 33,000 people as of April 28, but which had no final tally as of Tuesday, according to a spokesman.
“California was like the tallest leprechaun,” Hempstead quipped.
Washington state had more than 16,000 sign-ups during special enrollment, but that tally included people who had other situations that allowed them to enroll after open enrollment. Maryland’s exchange had 4,709 special tax season sign-ups, and Kentucky’s had 3,047.
The District of Columbia’s insurance marketplace has almost 1,400 special enrollment sign-ups, but did not break out a total for people motivated by the Obamacare penalty. Neither did Minnesota’s exchange, which reported about 3,900 special enrollment sign-ups on Tuesday.
Smaller states had even smaller enrollments during the grace period. Connecticut had more than 1,400 people sign up…
Those numbers are all small enough, but the next few states make these ones look like a stampede to get covered. Vermont, as the article notes, has had only 97 households sign up, and the state has until the end of this month before its grace period expires. Rhode Island, meanwhile, has seen just 25 households households, comprising a total of 32 people, enroll.
None of these cases, however, are as laughable as Hawaii’s exchange where no one has signed up. This is especially noteworthy because no state’s Obamacare exchange is currently worse off than Hawaii’s. As I noted in my post earlier this month, Hawaii Health Connector is in danger of completely shutting down because the Democrat dominated government does not want to appropriate enough money for it. The state has only 37,000 signed up on the exchange, but it needs 70,000 to be financially viable. Officials were hoping that the special enrollment period would fix that, but it obviously has done nothing of the sort.
All told, fewer than 250,000 people have signed up for plans during the special enrollment period. As the CNBC piece explains, that will change some when New York reports its numbers, assuming it doesn’t have the same problem as Hawaii, but even so, whatever the final total is will still put barely a dent in the 30 million who remain uninsured.
What we see here is a confirmation of what we already know: the people are rejecting Obamacare. A good many uninsured find it more economical to pay the penalty tax than actually enrolling on the exchanges. There is no good reason to allow this bloated, wasteful, confusing program to continue. Total repeal of Obamacare and replacing it with a working, market-based alternative still need to be among our highest priorities as we get closer to the 2016 elections.