Prior to the start of the new enrollment period, the Washington State Health Benefit Exchange predicted there would be “213,000 total private-plan enrollees this year, which would include the 140,000 enrollees from 2014 and 83,000 new enrollees.” Well, the deadline for applications is a little more than one week away (February 15) and the actual number of enrollees isn’t anywhere close to the prediction.
Only 87,000 people have re-enrolled to date. And, the exchange only managed to pick up 40,000 new enrollees this year—that’s 48% of the anticipated figure. Overall, the exchange is 40% below its predicted enrollment for the year.
The Washington Policy Center (WPC) explains why the shortfall a significant problem for taxpayers,
“The exchange is funded through three mechanisms: a tax on insurance premiums paid in the exchange, a tax on insurance companies selling policies in the exchange and state taxpayer money that funnels through the state Health Care Authority. If enrollment goals are not met, the money from the premium tax and the insurance company tax will not meet expectations. Hence, taxpayers will undoubtedly be responsible for the unmet costs to run the exchange.”
The Seattle Times points out that state exchange officials have made multiple excuses for the lower-than-predicted turnout. Explanations range from the number of people qualifying for Medicaid exceeding expectations to the website’s technical “glitches” driving people away to Obamacare plans still being too expensive. In the end, the excuses don’t matter. Taxpayers will still be on the hook for the exchange’s failure.