Roughly 100,000 people enrolled in health insurance through Obamacare last month — far short of the administration's goal. The much-anticipated statistic was not surprising, but it does help shape a clearer assessment of President Obama's signature program.
The enrollment numbers the Health and Human Services Department released Wednesday were, as expected, dismal. Roughly 106,000 people have picked an insurance plan (they haven't necessarily paid their first premium yet) through one of the health care law's new insurance exchanges. Another 396,000 people have been approved for Medicaid benefits, according to HHS.
That's far short of where enrollment ought to be at the end of the first month.
Republicans were happy to highlight the administration's enrollment problems, while the White House shrugged and said we all knew this was coming. The first month's numbers can tell us only so much about the law's future, but the figures do provide a couple of clear indications about what's working — and what isn't:
HHS is behind schedule, but there's time to catch up.
The numbers HHS released Wednesday are kind of useless, largely because it's so early in the process. The first month's enrollment numbers were never going to determine whether the Affordable Care Act lives or dies. Before the release, health care experts agreed that the October enrollment figures would help answer one question: Just how far behind are we? The answer: Pretty far.