Blowout Interest: 8 Million Have Applied for Coverage Under ACA

The headline numbers for the Affordable Care Act this week have been the 2.2 million Americans who have enrolled in a marketplace plan. But beneath the headlines lurks an even bigger blowout case for Obamacare: the interest is nearly literally off the charts.

By the 28th of last month 4,348,224 applications had been completed through the state and federal-run marketplaces applying for coverage for 7,716,824 individuals. Of those, 5.1 million have been deemed eligible for marketplace plans, and an additional 1.5 million for expanded Medicaid (note that Medicaid enrollees are not necessarily all enrolling through the exchanges, and additional numbers are doing so by directly applying with their states). About 1 million applicants' status is still pending.

That only about 2.2 million of the over 5 million had chosen marketplace plans by December 28 is an indication of a surge in enrollments that likely continued past that date. That means that as we continue to receive updates and March 31 end of open-enrollment approaches, the numbers are likely to blast past even the huge spike in enrollment in December. It is instructive to remember that the president's political detractors, including the main stream media, have zeroed in on a figure of 7 million enrollment goal by the end of March, a goal these numbers would indicate we are well on our way of reaching.

The numbers square with multiple stories from across the country in local media outlets noting overflow interest in Obamacare:
  • Associated Press: “Health care enrollment spikes in Utah in December” 
  • Detroit Free Press: “Health insurance enrollment takes off in Michigan, nation for coverage under ACA”
  • Detroit News: “Feds: Michigan experiences 11-fold increase in health care sign-ups”
  • MLive: “Obamacare signups in Michigan spike in December; see demographic breakdown”
  • Sun-Sentinel:  “Obamacare enrollment gains traction in Florida”
  • Stevens Point Journal: “Obamacare enrollment soars in Wisconsin”
  • Palm Beach Post: “Florida’s Obamacare enrollment surges, as does the nation's”
  • Albuquerque Business First: “New Mexico’s Healthcare.gov enrollment soars”
  • Bellingham Herald: “Wash. one of top states in health care enrollment”
  • WSFA: “More Alabamians signing up for health insurance”
  • Capital New York: “Strong Obamacare numbers from NY exchange director”
  • Gannett: “More Hoosiers joined health exchange in December”
  • Des Moines Register: “7,500 Iowans have signed up for private insurance on healthcare.gov, compared to 757 a month ago”
  • The Gazette: “Colorado health insurance enrollments continue at steady pace”
  • WRAL: “North Carolina fifth nationally in enrollment under health law”
  • Boise State Public Radio: “Idaho’s Health Insurance Exchange Enrollment Increases 1,000 Percent”
  • WLTX: “Health Insurance Enrollment Spikes in South Carolina”
  • Billings Gazette: “Montana sign-ups for Obamacare policies surge in December”
The application numbers are also easily explained by the traffic on Healthcare.gov and state run exchanges. As the latest report from the Center for Medicaid and Medicare services tells us, the websites logged over 53 million visits, and call centers counted over 11 million calls in the months since the exchanges opened. And this all happened with a bad web launch, and in less than 3 of the 6 months available for open enrollment.

The national media can continue to be concern trolls, and the political Right can keep on their blabbermouth attacks. But the real numbers keep proving real hunger for affordable health care that is now finally a reality thanks to the Affordable Care Act, and that hunger and interest keep belying the skewed poll numbers. As long as this is the reality, the political circus that is our media will have a difficult time trying to make the millions of Americans who are benefiting directly from Obamacare believe that the law giving them health care for the first time in a long time or providing them protections from the cunning insurance companies is a bad thing.

But if they want to keep trying in vein, bring it on.