Maryland Achieves Obamacare Enrollment Goal, Thanks to Convenient Correction, Flawed Data
February 25, 2014
by Sarah Hurtubise
(WASHINGTON) The Maryland Obamacare exchange has lowered its enrollment goals, but remains less than halfway to its goal for private coverage.
The Washington Post reported Sunday that the private research firm that put together the numbers for Maryland’s Obamacare exchange ratcheted down the marketplace’s enrollment goal from 260,000 sign-ups to 160,000 and claimed that the exchange has “already beat” its final goal.
The convenient revision came from Hilltop Institute at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, which issued a report (now revised) on the uninsured and the Affordable Care Act in July 2012, which projected 248,918 total Obamacare sign-ups, leading the Maryland Health Benefits Exchange to announce a goal of 260,000 enrollments in all.
Hilltop originally projected that 147,233 people would be newly insured, presumably through both private coverage and Medicaid. Another 90,639 would be automatically enrolled in Medicaid and 11,046 people who had been eligible for Medicaid before the Obamacare expansion would newly enroll, according to The Washington Post.
But the Hilltop Institute made their calculations using fiscal years instead of calendar years, meaning their initial projections accounted for both the first enrollment period slated to end March 31 and the second, which will begin Nov. 15, 2014. Their new “reasonable estimate,” to be used until revised research is finished, projected 70,000 enrollments in private plans and 90,000 in Medicaid coverage for a grand total of 160,000 Obamacare sign-ups.
The claim that the new projection is “a goal the state has already surpassed with a month to spare” doesn’t tell the full story, however. The latest enrollment update from the Maryland exchange cites 33,251 enrollments in private coverage. That leaves Maryland’s exchange somewhere less than halfway to its newly-lowered goal.
It’s Medicaid coverage that’s skyrocketed Maryland’s enrollment numbers: 156,561 people have enrolled in Medicaid coverage so far. That puts Medicaid enrollment at 174 percent of Hilltop’s projections so far. Signs-ups for the government program have outstripped new private insurance coverage nationwide.
But even in Medicaid, the lion’s share of enrollees aren’t new. Of the more than 156,000 the exchange is claiming for Obamacare coverage, 95,889 people were already part of the state Primary Adult Care program and automatically granted Medicaid benefits on January 1.
Newly enrolled Medicaid participants amount to 60,672; though the program has clearly outperformed private plans, the figure isn’t yet at the 90,000 mark of Hilltop’s newly adjusted projection either.
The Maryland exchange did not respond to requests for comment.