Accelerating progress. If you go to obamacaresignups.net, you can click back to prior forecasts, so you can get a sense of the acceleration factor. With 43.4% of the time between October 1 and March 31 elapsed, some states (with their own Exchanges and reporting systems) are just behind, right on, or ahead of pace for private insurance enrollments:
My forecast has been: 5MM private, 7.5MM Medicaid. If the current pace continues, I could be low on both.
So what enrollment numbers would be generally acceptable to a broad range of the media? My guess is that any number below the 7MM private enrollment CBO forecast will be flagged as a miss by many in the media; though it's possible a "big win" in the Medicaid number would offset the miss narrative for all but the most conservative media. 9MM was the original Medicaid target, but that included all states: the 25 states not accepting the Medicaid expansion accounted for about half that forecast. So if Medicaid hits 8MM, which it might, that might offset a private forecast miss. Minimum private enrollment needed to record ACA a success in most major media? My guess: 5MM. And I think we'll hit that.
And how about the possibility of a premium "death spiral", caused by too few "young invincibles" signing up? This is the core conservative argument as to why Obamacare will "collapse of its own weight": the ACA, according to this argument, is based on a faulty model - the mandate penalties are too low to compel performance by the young, so they will not sign up and the program will eventually break down. The "death spiral" argument is, I am certain, groundless:
And finally, what about the employer-sponsored insurance market? Any chance of a wholesale dumping of people into the Exchanges to avoid ACA-related problems? The Right is pushing this meme big time, saying we will see this as we approach the July 1 date when the delayed employer mandate kicks in. My response: Quite simply, it won't happen. Providing quality benefits is too important to employers to just give it up.
The ACA is reaching solid ground. It will not be derailed. Will the strengths of the program emerge before the November, 2014 elections? They might, and they might not. To some extent it will depend on how effectively Democratic candidates present the evidence. By 2016, I am confident the benefits of this bill will be understood and this will contribute to what I am certain will be a Republican shellacking.