7.1 Million, In Context

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. (AP)

Obamacare supporters celebrated Tuesday when the Obama administration announced that, according to the Obama administration, 7.1 million people have "signed up for private insurance plans" via the government-run health-care exchanges.

Meanwhile, the smattering of conventional liberals who comprise the target audience for General Electric’s Vox.com turned to their Juicebox-powered oracles for "crucial context" regarding the announcement and the "deeper meaning" behind the 7.1 million figure. But it was nowhere to be found.

That failure is 100% on them as writers; that is entirely their fault. Fortunately, the Washington Free Beacon has the piping hot context you crave:

-How accurate is the 7.1 million figure?  

We don’t know. After months of hemming and hawing about the actual enrollment figures, and despite the surge in traffic on HealthCare.gov, the White House somehow managed to quickly produce a very precise number that happened to meet their enrollment target. When asked about this on Tuesday, White House press secretary Jay Carney said the quick turnaround was due to the fact that "our systems have gotten a lot better."

-How many of those 7.1 million sign-ups have actually enrolled in (i.e., paid for) new insurance plans under Obamacare.

We don’t know. Earlier this week, Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that between 80-90 percent of the (then 6 million) people who have signed up for Obamacare have actually paid a premium. Assuming that figures holds true, the actual enrollment figure would be somewhere between 5.7 million and 6.4 million.

-How many of those 7.1 million sign-ups were previously uninsured?

We don’t know. Carney said Monday that "we expect there to be a good mix of people who were previously uninsured who now have insurance," whatever that means. A number of independent studies estimate that only 25-33 percent of Obamacare enrollees were previously uninsured. The remaining enrollees were likely among the 5 million Americans whose existing plans were cancelled as a result of Obamacare.

According to these estimates, the number of previously uninsured Americans who have enrolled in (and paid for) Obamacare is somewhere between 1.4 million and 2.1 million. It may be even less than that, however, as a previously undisclosed study from the RAND Corporation estimates that only 23 percent of Obamacare enrollees were previously uninsured. Needless to say, this is far below the administration’s expectations.

-How many "young invincibles" have enrolled?

We don’t know. But we do know that the Obamacare exchanges can only function properly if a significant number (around 40 percent) of enrollees are young and healthy. As of February, just 25 percent of enrollees were between the ages of 18 and 34. The White House has said they expect more "young invincibles" to sign up closer to the deadline, and Carney asserted Tuesday that the percentage of young enrollees needed to make the marketplaces function "has already been cleared."

-How many Americans still don’t have health insurance?

We don’t know. Speaking at the White House on Tuesday, President Obama said: "the idea that everybody in this country can get decent health care … is achievable." But the CBO projects that, even if Obamacare works exactly as intended, some 30 million people will remain without health insurance over the coming decade.

The White House has argued that this number would be lower if some Republican governors hadn’t declined to expand Medicaid in their states, but the CBO says that this accounts for just 5 percent of the uninsured under Obamacare.