Much ado about a jump in ObamaCare signups, but it's a tiny sliver of the population

Headshot image of Herman Cain
Published by: Herman Cain on Sunday November 19th, 2017

And shoehorning them into this insane system is ruining health care for the other 315 million people in this country.

To listen to the media this week, you'd think it was an ObamaCare triumph! Almost 1.5 million people signed up for ObamaCare since November 1! What a big deal!

Except that it's really not. Those still determined to defend this disaster of a law are pretty excited that, even with President Trump pulling back on promotional advertising and Republicans trying (but failing thus far) to repeal the law, we've still got people signing up. In fact, signups have jumped compared with last year, which has the swamp creatures acting like some tasty morsel just fell into the stagnant water:

A total of 1,478,250 people signed up on HealthCare.gov since Nov. 1, the start of open enrollment in individual health insurance plans, according to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Last year, 1,008,218 people signed up in the first two weeks.

CMS also reported that the number of people applying for coverage and visiting HealthCare.gov was sharply higher than in the same period last year.

The brisk pace of sign-ups and customer interest comes despite fears by Obamacare advocates that enrollment would significantly decreasebecause of hostile actions by the Trump administration.

Among other things, the administration has slashed budgets for Affordable Care Act outreach and advertising and ordered federal health officials not to participate in state events that encourage enrollment. Advocates also are concerned that sign-ups will be tamped down by the fact that the enrollment season on the federal exchange is only about half the length of last season.

The new enrollment tally comes a day after Senate Republican leaders said they will seek repeal of Obamacare's individual mandate, which requires most Americans to have some form of health insurance coverage during the year or pay a tax penalty.

A leading Obamacare advocacy group, Get America Covered, on Wednesday said that the average daily rate of enrollments on HealthCare.gov is 60 percent higher than it was last year. That statistic takes into account the fact that the 11 day reporting period by CMS this year is one day shorter than the enrollment snapshop released for the first two weeks last year.

This year, an average of 134,386 people per day are signing up, compared to 84,018 people per day last year, according to Get America Covered, which is run by two former Obama administration health officials.

Aside from proving the uselessness of ObamaCare advertising, we're talking about a statistical variation that still leaves you with a pretty tiny percentage of the population. ObamaCare signups overall remain 60 percent below with the Congressional Budget Office estimated when the law was first passed, just as premiums have turned out much higher than expected and insurers have dropped out of many markets.

One simply way to explain the change in numbers is that most people thought at the end of last year ObamaCare was going to be repealed. That doesn't appear nearly as likely now, so maybe people who thought about signing up but figured there was no use went ahead and did so this year.

But regardless, this loses sight of the big picture. Prior to the passage of ObamaCare, at least 85 percent of the population indicated it was happy with its health insurance. You had a small percentage who were uninsured, some by choice and some because they couldn't afford it. Figuring out what to do with that small percentage was a worthwhile endeavor, but it should have been focused on the people who had the problem. That would have been a manageable problem that would lend itself to a reasonable solution.

But that is not what Obama and the Democrats did in 2009 and 2010. Instead, they ripped up the system that was working well for most people and replaced it with a new one that's replete with economic distortions, perverse incentives and delusional cost assumptions. To establish the system these 1.47 million people signed up for, the Democrats ruined the system that was working around 300 million other people.

Why did they do this? Not because they really thought they were helping the small percentage who lacked insurance. That was just a pretext. The real reason is that Democrats want the federal government to control as much of the economy as possible, and health care is an attractive target. Control health care and you can get your tentacles into almost everything.

When they passed ObamaCare, they merely used the uninsured as an excuse to grab that control. They've wanted it for many decades, going all the way back to the New Deal. And no matter how many people sign up for it, it's not a triumph because the system doesn't work for anyone.

That's what congressional Republicans should keep in mind as they consider the rest of their legislative agenda. Just because it's hard is no excuse not to repeal this monstrosity. That's what we elected them to do.

Get your copy of Herman Cain’s new book, The Right Problems Solutions, here!