by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The White House released a video Tuesday evening of President Obama and Obamacare chief Sylvia Burwell celebrating a “preliminary estimate” of 11.4 million Americans who signed up for insurance nationwide during the health law’s second open enrollment period. …
… The Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation originally predicted that 13 million Americans would sign up for coverage on Obamacare exchanges by this point; the agency downgraded that estimate to 12 million in January. The administration’s preliminary figures have failed to meet either projection.
But HHS issued a memorandum just before this open enrollment period began, which downgraded the agency’s own expectations to between 9.1 and 9.9 million customers at the end of the second enrollment period. HHS said it expected the exchanges to take longer to “ramp up” enrollment than the CBO and JCT had estimated.
Burwell emphasized that the 11.4 million figure is just a “preliminary estimate” and will still change. The administration has already pushed back the deadline to sign up for coverage on HealthCare.gov to Feb. 22 and most state-run exchanges have extended enrollment as well. …
… Changed deadlines aside, the estimate is still sure to change. Last year’s enrollment total, which came in at 8.1 million at the end of the enrollment period, fell to 6.7 million after sign-ups who didn’t pay for their plans were discounted and ineligible customers were kicked off their plans.