MNsure spin

When it comes to MNsure spin, Scott Leitz’s spin ranks right up there. Here’s what he said:

MNsure’s interim CEO Scott Leitz appeared on WCCO Sunday Morning.

“With regards to the private side, we are running about 30,000 right now, but we do anticipate because of the mandate that people have health insurance coverage by March 31,” Leitz said.

Notice that Leitz didn’t say that they anticipate people enrolling because MNsure is selling a great product. Leitz didn’t say that people would buy at the last minute because they’re having a difficult time picking between a bunch of great options at great prices either. What Leitz said in this unguarded moment of truth is that people would buy health insurance because the government pointed a gun at their head.

It remains to be seen if Leitz’s prediction is right. I’m betting it isn’t because President Obama might delay imposing the individual mandate because it’s as unworkable as other parts of the ACA are. If that happens, people will have an additional incentive to not buy insurance. If people choose not to buy health insurance, health insurance prices will skyrocket. Not just that but there’s another important thing that likely will happen if people don’t sign up:

Only about one third signed up for private insurance plans, far below the projected numbers. That’s a problem because starting in 2015, money to fund MNsure is supposed to come from a tax on those private plans. If that trend continues, MNsure will face a substantial deficit and taxpayers may have to bail out the program.

If Minnesotans don’t flock to MNsure, MNsure will run a significant deficit that taxpayers will have to cover. This MNsure report indicates that MNsure won’t reach its targets. According to the report, 41,591 individuals have enrolled in Medical Assistance, 29,943 individuals have enrolled in qualified health plans (QHPs), while 21,414 individuals have enrolled in MinnesotaCare. According to the chart on page 4 of the report, approximately 3,500 people have signed up for QHPs this year. That’s approximately 3,500 individuals signing up between 1/4/2014 and 2/8/2014. That’s a little over 100 enrollments per day.

That’s stunning. MNsure needs to go from 29,500 individuals enrolled on 2/8/2014 to having 69,900 individuals enrolled on 4/1/2014. If enrollments continue at a pace of 100 enrollees per day between 2/8/2014 and 4/1/2014, they’ll have 34,600 individuals enrolled on April 1. At that pace, they’d fall short of their goal by 35,300 people.

That’s just part of the terrible news. According to the latest data, only 21% of the people signing up for QHPs are in the 19-34 age group. If that percentage doesn’t double by April 1, next year’s premiums will jump through the proverbial roof. If MNsure falls that far short of their goal, Minnesotans would be totally justified in thinking of that the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, isn’t affordable.

It isn’t surprising that Mr. Leitz’s spin got past Ms. Murphy’s attention. What won’t escape people’s attention if they’re buying health insurance is the fact that it’s expensive.