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NewsBusters has "busted" me.

The attack points seem to be:

1. I'm a "political operative".

2. The "But how many have PAID???" attack point.

Regarding the first point: Yes, I'm a staunchly Democratic political activist. I say so on the website, I'm well-known as a Daily Kos regular. The WaPo guy stated that I'm not a "political operative"...by which means that I'm not on any political organizations payroll.

I dunno...to me, "operative" means a paid position, but perhaps not. In any event, I've never said that I am unbiased or politically neutral--I said that the data I'm presenting is.

Regarding the second point: (sigh) How many times do I have to explain this to people?

People who enrolled between 2/16 and 3/15 don't even start coverage until April 1st, while anyone who enrolls between 3/16 - 3/31 won't start coverage until May 1st. In many cases, their first month's premium won't even be due until up to 6 weeks or more after they enroll. Considering how many people wait until the last minute to pay their bills, it's silly to write these people off as deadbeats. The vast majority of these will eventually be paid up, it's just that we won't have confirmation of many of them until well into MAY.

Around 3.7 million people had enrolled in QHPs (paid + unpaid) on the exchanges as of February 15th. The number was around 4.9 million as of March 15 (it hit 5 million a couple of days later). That means roughly 1.2 million people enrolled between 2/16 - 3/15. None of those policies start until April 1st.

If the final number of enrollments ends up being 5.5M, that means another 600,000 (from 3/16 - 3/31) won't start until MAY 1st.

Out of 5.5 million total, that's 22% that don't start until 4/01 and another 11% that don't start until 5/01.

A full 1/3 of all exchange QHPs won't even have their first payment due until after 3/31.

How about the 6.2 million that I'm projecting at the moment?

Out of 6.2M total, over 19% won't start until 4/01 and another 21% won't start until May 1st. That's 40% of the total whose payments aren't due yet.

Now, let's look at Vermont.

Vermont is the only state to list not only the paid/unpaid numbers, but which month each one was/is set to start.

Their current Paid number is only about 64%, which sounds admittedly bad.

However, guess what?

Out of 12,677 January-start policies, 11,915 of the enrollees have paid their premiums. That's 94% of them.

Out of 1,989 February-start policies, 1,842 have paid. That's 93%.

Out of 3,268 March-start policies, 2,689 have paid. That's 82%.

So why is it 64% overall? Simple.

Out of 9,865 April-start policies (you know, the month that hasn't started yet), 1,878 have paid...or just 19%.

And finally, out of 1,151 May-start policies (still almost 6 weeks away), 183 have paid...or just 16%.

In other words, I've said it before and I'll say it again: Since more than 1/3 of the total QHP enrollments won't even start coverage until April or May, why is anyone freaking out about the "unpaid" number already? The April and May policies are completely dragging down the overall total, when they don't even start yet!

The only ones which can truly be judged for their paid/unpaid status so far are January, February and March start policies, since those months are either over with or already started...and in Vermont, at least, those 3 months combined add up to 16,446 paid out of 17,934...or 92% PAID.

Compare this to the 90% "final payment" ratio that I've been assuming...which is now looking pretty conservative (pun intended) by comparison, no?

So again, when the deadline hits, I'm not gonna worry about 15% of enrollments not being paid when 33% or more of the policies haven't even started yet.

Now, let's assume that in the end, 8% of the enrollees really and truly DON'T pay up, even a month into their coverage period, because they're deadbeats, or losers, or whatever.

In fact, let's go further and assume that none of those 8% are due to the insurance company billing system fucking things up (because you know that never happens in the private sector...oh, wait: That happened to my wife and I; it took BCBSM until early February to confirm our January payment even though we sent it in December...)

At this point, then I have to ask the following: What was the industry norm for cancellations/deadbeat policyholders before the exchanges launched?

I'm sure it's lower than 8%, but how much lower? 0.5%? 1%? I have no idea. Let's assume it's only 1%.

Well, that leaves 7% that can be legitimately attacked as not "counting" towards the total.

However, again, we won't know that until mid-May.

So, I'll say it here and now: If the "official" number ends up being 6.2 million, and by, say, May 15th, 7% of those still haven't paid up due to either the policyholder bailing or the exchange (not the company) screwing up the transaction, I'm perfectly willing to subtract 434,000 from the total and bring it down to 5.77M.

If the total and/or the unpaid percentage are some other numbers by May 15, I'll subtract them accordingly at that point.

Until then, it's all a bunch of blather.

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