High Risk Pools

By Greg Scandlen

As you know, the risk pool mandate of ObamaCare has been a mess. Rather than the expected enrollment of 375,000 by the end of the year, they actually enrolled only 8,000, but even then were spending more than they had budgeted. Well, this got a whole lot of negative attention, so apparently someone from the White House gave certain reporters a good talking to.

At least that is the impression one gets from reading Sarah Kliff’s more recent article in Politico. Here she spins the available information beyond recognition.  She writes: “Within the past 75 days, enrollment in the federally-run high risk pools has just about doubled.” Wow! Nearly doubled? Well, no. Enrollment went from 8,000 to 10,000, an increase of 25%. I guess that is the kind of math they are teaching in J-School these days.

But, that’s okay. She is even more gung ho on the tremendous out-reach programs the states have launched. North Carolina, for instance, “aired a six-week television ad campaign in late November and put up 14 billboards across the state.” Wow, again! That must have really made enrollment shoot up, right? Well, no. But it did result on increased traffic to the web site, with “overall web traffic seeing a 44 percent increase.” The article doesn’t include information on new enrollment.

But North Carolina did lower its premiums along with the federal pools that lowered premiums by 20%. Double Wow! That must mean the risk pool costs have been controlled, eh? Well, no. Premiums were lowered because not enough people were enrolling. The program was supposed to charge enrollees 100% of standard rates in the private market, but this is government. Premiums can be whatever they want them to be. Who cares when taxpayers (and the Chinese) are paying the difference?