By Justin Sink - 11/11/13 06:34 PM EST
The Obama administration will count individuals who have selected a healthcare plan but not yet sent in their first payment when releasing a count of enrollees in the new healthcare exchanges, an administration official told The Washington Post on Monday.
“In the data that will be released this week, ‘enrollment’ will measure people who have filled out an application and selected a qualified health plan in the marketplace,” the official told the paper.
The distinction is an important one, following reports like the one last week in which the Senate Finance Committee showed that only five individuals had enrolled in the District of Columbia's insurance marketplace.
In fact, only five individuals had selected a plan and sent their first month's payment to insurers. Most individuals appear to be waiting to mail in that check until it is due in December, as coverage won't begin until Jan. 1.
Despite the more generous definition of enrollment, a Wall Street Journal report released Monday suggests that the administration has fallen far short of its goal for enrollments. According to the report, fewer than 50,000 have purchased private health plans on the federal marketplace — less than a tenth of the administration's goal, according to internal memos cited by congressional Republicans.
A separate 50,000 individuals are believed to have enrolled in insurance on exchanges administered by 12 states, and more consumers were told that they now qualified for Medicaid coverage.
White House press secretary Jay Carney admitted last week that “enrollment figures will be even lower than the low numbers that were anticipated” because of sustained technical problems with the ObamaCare website. The administration has pledged to have the site working for the vast majority of users by the end of the month.