By Jonathan Easley - 03/06/14 05:01 PM EST
ObamaCare isn’t achieving its primary goal of extending coverage to the uninsured, according to a new study.
The Obama administration says 4 million people have selected a plan since the exchanges launched on Oct. 1, but has not said how many of them already had an insurance plan.
At a healthcare industry conference on Thursday, Gary Cohen, a top official at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), said it’s not something the administration has the ability to track.
“That's not a data point that we are really collecting in any sort of systematic way," Cohen said, according to The National Journal.
A CMS official told The Hill that it’s an important measurement that the agency hopes to be able to report on in the future.
“We are a looking at a range of data sources to determine how many marketplace enrollees previously had coverage,” the official said. “The marketplace application asks applicants only if they are looking to apply for coverage, not whether the consumer currently has coverage. Previous insurance coverage is an important metric, and we hope to have additional information in the future.”
Still, the 4 million ObamaCare enrollees are a small fraction of those who may have obtained coverage for the first time.
The administration said earlier this month that almost 9 million people had signed up for Medicaid since Oct. 1, but it's also unclear there how many of them are newly insured.
A recent analysis by Avalere Health, a Washington-based healthcare consulting firm, estimated that 2.4 million to 3.5 million of the enrollees may be receiving Medicaid.
Figures released by the administration have often painted incomplete picture of the healthcare law's progress. It reported enrollment figures that included people who have selected a plan but not completed the process by making their first premium payment.
Critics have warned that the administration’s numbers are inflated because not everyone who selects a plan will complete the final step to obtain coverage.
McKinsey found that more than 75 percent of those who had selected a plan also paid their premiums. That is in line with previous studies, which have generally found that about 20 percent have not paid.
Still, these numbers appear to be heading in the right direction for the administration.
According to McKinsey’s February survey, the previously uninsured made up 11 percent of enrollees, and 48 percent of those who had selected a plan made a premium payment.