The Obama Administration has lowered its estimate of how many Americans will enroll under national healthcare insurance exchanges established by the Affordable Care Act, the White House announced Monday.
About 9.9 million people will be signed up by the end of next year, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said. This is approximately 30% lower than the latest level predicted by the Congressional Budget Office.
The new figures from HHS are based on how quickly Americans have signed up for previous public health insurance programs, and also account for people who won’t stay in their plans.
As the Washington Post pointed out in its coverage, this may be seen as a referendum on both the act itself and the President’s overall effectiveness.
“The discrepancy revives questions about the pace of progress on a central mission of the law — to widen Americans’ access to affordable insurance — and how well the administration and its allies will be able to keep customers who already have bought marketplace health plans and attract new ones,” the Post’s Nov. 10 article read.
The next enrollment period, which covers plans starting on Jan. 1, 2015, begins on Nov. 15.
It appears that more than insurance needs are at play in determining who signs up for the exchange.
A University of Washington study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research suggests that those who blame Republicans or both parties for the October 2013 government shutdown are more likely to show interest in enrolling than those who blame Democrats. So cutting through partisan rhetoric will likely be a key strategy in expanding enrollment.
“Alternative strategies, for example bipartisan outreach, may be necessary to convince these groups of eligible beneficiaries to consider enrollment,” the study authors wrote in their analysis, adding that states with divisive bipartisan political environments should be even more proactive on this front.
The ACA has sparked controversy ever since its passage, and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) stated after sweeping Republican victories in the recent midterm elections that repealing key parts of the law are a priority for the GOP over the next two years.
“My job is to listen to the American public,” he said at a press conference. “And they’ve made it clear that they don’t want Obamacare.”