HHS under pressure for more O-Care data

The Health and Human Services Department (HHS) released its much-anticipated early ObamaCare enrollee data on Wednesday, but now the administration faces pressure to provide a more detailed breakdown of that data.

“You can’t even really tell what’s going on here,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said on CNN’s "The Lead."

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius reported that 106,000 people selected private health plans under ObamaCare in the program's first month, but that number includes those who haven’t yet made a payment.

“These numbers are a lot worse than advertised,” Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said in a statement. “The reason is simple: the Administration is over inflating the numbers by including folks shopping for a plan — not just looking at who’s signed up.”

On a conference call with reporters, Sebelius said those who have already selected plans scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 1 don’t owe their first payments until Dec. 15. 

She argued that the timing between Wednesday’s release and the Dec. 15 deadline put HHS in an odd position, and that the agency’s decision to combine the early data was an attempt to provide a complete picture of how the enrollment process was coming along.

Sebelius also pledged that HHS would provide a breakdown between those who have paid and those who have selected a plan before the end of the year.

But that’s not the only data that was missing from Wednesday’s breakdown.

The healthcare marketplaces will need young and healthy consumers to enroll to keep a balanced risk pool and stable premium prices for 2015 and beyond. Wednesday’s release doesn’t break down the enrollees by age.

Many believe the early adopters will be older and higher risk, as those without current coverage, possibly due to pre-existing conditions, rush to enroll. The administration has been adamant that it expects an influx of young and healthy consumers before the end of the six-month enrollment period on March 31.

Still, HHS’s initial release provided a great deal of important data.

It sectioned-out the nearly 400,000 ushered in to Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program under the law’s expansion. 

And the breakdown of enrollees by state highlights how the state-run exchanges are vastly outperforming the federally run exchanges.

An astounding 75 percent of the 106,000 enrollees are in the 12 states running their own markets (an additional two states, plus the District of Columbia, didn’t report). In addition, the breakdown showed that more than one-third of total enrollees came from California.

The early data might be underwhelming, but the administration has consistently pointed to Massachusetts, where the state passed a similar universal coverage law in 2005.

In its release, HHS said Massachusetts only logged 123 enrollees by the end of its first month, or .3 percent of total enrollment at the end of year one. HHS trumpeted that its 106,185 enrollees was 1.5 percent of its estimated total for this time next year.