If a publicly traded company like Amazon tried reporting items sitting in online shopping carts as being part of their sales they’d be brought up on fraud charges.
The fight over how to define the new health law’s success is coming down to one question: Who counts as an Obamacare enrollee?
Health insurance plans only count subscribers as enrolled in a health plan once they’ve submited a payment. That is when the carrier sends out a member card and begins paying doctor bills.
When the Obama administration releases health law enrollment figures later this week, though, it will use a more expansive definition. It will count people who have purchased a plan as well as those who have a plan sitting in their online shopping cart but have not yet paid.
“In the data that will be released this week, ‘enrollment’ will measure people who have filled out an application and selected a qualified health plan in the marketplace,” said an administration official, who requested anonymity to frankly describe the methodology.
The disparity in the numbers is likely to further inflame the political fight over the Affordable Care Act. Each side could choose a number to make the case that the health law is making progress or failing miserably.
On Monday, the Wall Street Journal, citing anonymous sources, said insurance companies have received about 50,000 private health plan enrollments through HealthCare.gov. Even combined with state tallies, the figure falls far short of the 500,000 sign-ups the administration initially predicted for both private sign-ups and those opting for the expansion of Medicaid.