Jeffrey Zients, the man called in to rescue the federal government’s health care website, stated the obvious Friday when he said HealthCare.gov was “a long way from where it needs to be.” New enrollment numbers illustrate the point.
According to The Wall Street Journal, fewer than 50,000 people were able to sign up for Obamacare insurance plans during October, the first month the site was up and running. That’s just one-tenth the number of people the administration had expected would sign up.
The Journal obtained its figure from two people familiar with the matter, who cited internal government data. The administration is supposed to release the official October enrollment numbers this week. There’s no reason to expect the number presented by the Office of Health and Human Services, which is overseeing enrollment and the website, will be substantially different from what the newspaper reported.
After all, HealthCare.gov has been a disaster since its debut Oct. 1. Americans have come to learn that the administration was bent on getting the ball rolling that day, despite testing that showed the system wasn’t anywhere close to ready.
The Journal interviewed one man in Illinois who had to try a half-dozen times just to create a profile on the website. In late October, he finally was able to review premiums for some insurance plans. He said he would like to review the government’s small-business plans before making a decision, but that part of the site isn’t working.
The low number of sign-ups, particularly among younger Americans, will eventually turn Obamacare on its head because the higher rates paid by younger, fitter enrollees are needed to help offset costs of services to older Americans.
The spokeswoman for HHS says officials expected all along that the largest number of registrations would occur closer to the Dec. 15 deadline. Then again, the administration also expected the website to work, too.