by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Remember the Obama administration’s “victory dance” back in April, when it announced 8 million people had signed up for health insurance via the so-called Affordable Care Act? Jed Graham of Investor’s Business Daily does.
Aetna’s ObamaCare exchange statistics should clear up any doubt as to why the Obama Administration has been tight-lipped about enrollment since celebrating 8 million sign-ups in mid-April.
Reality, evidence suggests, could require quite a come-down from those lofty claims.
The nation’s third-largest health insurer had 720,000 people sign up for exchange coverage as of May 20, a spokesman confirmed to IBD. At the end of June, it had fewer than 600,000 paying customers. Aetna expects that to fall to “just over 500,000” by the end of the year.
That would leave Aetna’s paid enrollment down as much as 30% from that May sign-up tally.
“I think we will see some attrition … We’re already seeing it. And we expect that to continue through the end of the year,” CEO Mark Bertolini said in a July 29 conference call.
It’s not clear how representative Aetna’s experience is of broader exchange trends, or whether its projection may be too conservative. (If it were representative, a similar 30% decline would drop ObamaCare enrollment to 6 million or less.)
Still, as one of ObamaCare’s largest players, participating in exchanges in 16 states plus D.C., Aetna’s experience provides a pretty good window into what is happening across the country, and there are other indications that enrollment has turned down.
Cigna said that it expects its individual market customers, including more than 100,000 in the exchanges, to “move from 300,000 down to 280,000 in that range,” Cigna CEO David Cordani said in a conference call.
Other major insurers danced around questions about attrition on recent earnings conference calls, but none denied that it was occurring.