Administration Prepares for the True Test of Obamacare

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Healthcare policy experts, members of Congress, and analysts are fighting over what the Affordable Care Act enrollment figures mean for the success of the healthcare reform. What is indisputable is that the number of people that have selected a marketplace plan through the insurance exchanges set up under the auspices of Obamacare amount to less than half of the total signups predicted by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office for the entire six-month enrollment period. So far, three months have elapsed since the exchange system launched.

But, aside from the hard numbers, there is little agreement. Some argue that the numbers show an increased momentum in signups, which suggests the December 1 relaunch of the federal healthcare website gave Americans a measure of confidence in the exchange system, prompting more and more people to enroll. After all, the CBO forecast noted that enrollment would start slowly, with “significant peaks in December.” While it is impossible to deny that enrollments did spike in December — of the total 1.1 million total enrollments through the federal exchanges, 975,000 signed up between December 1 and the Christmas Eve deadline — critics still worry about the scale of the enrollment numbers. With just around 3 million peopled enrolled, Obamacare has yet to put a significant dent in the number of uninsured Americans.

To Americans in a quandary over whether to enroll in an Obamacare-compliant insurance policy or pay the federal tax penalty, hard enrollment numbers are far less important to their decision making process than how satisfied those that have purchased a plan are with its coverage and affordability. That is why when January 1 dawns, and the policies that have been purchased through the cornerstone provision of the Affordable Care Act become active, the real test will begin. The Obama administration is well-aware of this fact.

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