WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) - An analysis conducted by CBS News discovered that more Americans are enrolling in Medicaid than are purchasing private health insurance plans, due in large part to the glitches that have plagued the launch of HealthCare.gov since its Oct. 1 launch.
Industry executives even went so far as to tell CBS News that the rate of enrollment in the public health insurance option could “threaten the entire structure of Obamacare,” the health care legislation put forth by the administration of President Barack Obama that is known more formally as the Affordable Care Act.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which is overseeing the federally run exchanges, doesn’t expect to release enrollment data until mid-November. But scattered reports that have come in from some states aren’t encouraging.
In Washington, 87 percent of the 35,000 people who enrolled for coverage signed up for Medicaid. Kentucky saw similar rates of Medicaid enrollment, with 82 percent of the 26,000 new enrollments steering clear of private plans.
Similar breakdowns were seen in states throughout the nation.
“We’re seeing a huge spike in terms of Medicaid enrollments,” executive director of the National Association of Medicaid Directors Matt Salo noted to CBS News.
Officials such as former Medicaid director Gail Wilensky expressed concern regarding the phenomenon.
She said, “Either the private insurance enrollments come up somewhere around the expected amount or there’s going to be a problem. … You need a volume and you need a mix of people that are healthy as well as high users in private insurance, in order to have it be sustainable.”
This is not the only problem the health exchanges are facing – the Obama administration has worked feverishly to fix the website delays, frozen screens and other glitches that they attributed to the high level of consumer interest, not software or design issues.
But independent experts said it’s probably a combination of all those factors, noting that a high volume of users tends to expose software issues undetected by testing.
Critics meanwhile are calling for Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to resign because the federal website designed to help people buy health insurance is still not working more than three weeks after it launched.
The online health insurance exchange is supposed to allow the uninsured buy affordable health insurance and in many cases receive government subsidies.
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