Now that the official open enrollment closed last month and the extended quasi-open period ended a few days ago President Obama held a rare press conference to tout the final numbers for Obamacare this year. The big number is 8 million people have selected a plan on the new exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act.
It is worth noting that probably around 10 percent of these won’t end up paying their premiums to actually get insurance, but even with that factored in, it is safe to assume around 7 million now have private insurance coverage via the exchanges. The President also said 28 percent of people who selected plans on the exchanges were in the coveted 18-34 age group.
It appears the exchanges will have a large enough and relatively healthy risk pool to function mostly as the Congressional Budget Office predicted they would since 2010. This new final total is remarkably close to the CBO’s longstanding estimates and I suspect they will continue to be a very good guide of how things will unfold in the next few years.
In addition to promoting the exchange numbers Obama used the event to attack local Republicans for refusing “out of political spite” to take part in the Medicaid expansion, even though the cost would be mostly covered by the federal government. According to the White House 5.7 million more people will be uninsured in 2016 as a result of this refusal. Expect the Republicans’ political decision to oppose Medicaid expansion to become a frequent line of attack in 2014.