Sunday, December 22, 2013

Covered California Admits ‘Mistake’ That Made It Look More Successful Than It Was

These numbers make much more sense. But rest assured, everything will be fine when your sick child shows up at the doctor's office.

Published by Chris Reed at CalWatchDog:
Covered_CaliforniaSo Covered California has admitted a mistake in its initial description of signups for California’s version of Obamacare, and it was that fake description that led to stories across the nation about Obamacare getting off to a great start in California. If you’re not cynical about this, you should get professional help. KPCC, the Pasadena-based NPR radio station, has the details:
Covered California said Monday that two of the numbers it had released regarding October health insurance enrollment were wrong. The agency said it had mistakenly transposed the numbers in two categories: the people who bought plans with federal subsidies, and those who bought unsubsidized policies. 
The corrected numbers for October are 25,978 individuals who enrolled with a federal subsidy, and 4,852 individuals who enrolled without a subsidy. 
KPCC raised questions about the numbers last Thursday after Covered California issued new data for combined enrollment in October and November. The numbers indicated that unsubsidized enrollment had gone from 84 percent of all enrollment in October to just 14 percent of the total for October and November combined.

So the state agency initially said there were five unsubsidized sign-ups for every subsidized sign-up — and more than a month later, after the initial round of good reviews is in, it says, “Oh, wait a minute — it’s the other way around.” Five subsidized sign-ups for every unsubsidized sign-up is not impressive at all.

The tiny numbers of unsubsidized sign-ups makes it very likely that come Jan. 1, more people in California will have had their health insurance cancelled because of Obamacare than have signed up for Obamacare. The subsidized people are easy to attract, relatively speaking — not the unsubsidized people.

Not first time Covered California put out deceptive numbers

The explanation for this self-serving supposed screw-up?
A spokesman had initially insisted the numbers were correct, and that the huge fluctuation was due to such things as cancellations, duplicate records and changes in eligibility. Covered California now says it discovered the error after further review of its data. 
‘It was an unfortunate error, and we apologize for any confusion,’ said Covered California Communications Director Oscar Hidalgo. 
The corrected data confirm that the number of people buying unsubsidized plans has been a small part of the overall enrollment picture since Covered California opened for business on Oct. 1.
Covered California’s dishonest streak has been evident from its very first press releases, which depicted its rates as cheaper than policies available to most Californians. They may have been cheaper than alleged experts “expected.” But that is not remotely the same thing as cheaper than the alternatives they were replacing.

So count me as completely unsurprised that a “mistake” was made on reporting of enrollment figures that made Covered California seem as if it was off to a better start than it actually was.