Obama Administration Fudged Exchange Enrollment with Stand-Alone Dental Plans

It appears the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a numbers problem: Alex Wayne reports for Bloomberg that the government inflated its 2014 enrollment figures for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act exchanges by including dental plans along with medical plans.

HHS included almost 400,000 stand-alone dental plans in its September estimate of 7.3 million people who were enrolled and paid for health coverage, Mr. Wayne said. The information was discovered by investigators for the House Oversight and Government Reform committee, Bloomberg reported.

Using HHS’ most recent estimate that 7.1 million people have received coverage through the government-run marketplaces would drop the number of Obamacare enrollees with full health plans to about 6.7 million.

HHS parsed out the medical and dental coverage data differently this year. In May, the government said 8 million people had health plans, some of which include dental benefits, while another 1.1 million people had stand-alone dental plans.

The latest 6.7 million figure could give fodder to Obamacare opponents. The administration previously set a goal of 7 million sign-ups in the first year of the exchanges.

However, even if 6.7 million people with ACA medical plans is the most up-to-date, accurate number, it’s still higher than a recent Congressional Budget Office estimate. In February, the CBO said it projected 6 million people would receive insurance coverage in 2014 through the exchanges, with sharp increases in enrollment in 2015 and 2016.

Several observers in the industry similarly expected attrition among exchange members.

It’s unclear how HHS let this come to pass.

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