Steve Parente: Not so fast; here’s how to count health sign-ups

Star Tribune, January 30, 2014

The Obama administration has invested considerable energy attempting to rebrand and relaunch On a near-weekly basis, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and her press office issue proclamations touting improving success in signing up more consumers through the website.

But sign-ups are the wrong success metric. A Holy Trinity of metrics must be achieved before a person is truly insured.

Invoking a core foundation of Christianity as public policy allegory may seem extreme. Yet prayer likely will be required for the administration to achieve its goal of 7 million exchange enrollees by March 31.

The central mission of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is to reduce the number of uninsured to as close to zero as possible. Had the administration been serious about counting those no longer uninsured, it would recognize the Holy Trinity involved in the ACA successfully insuring someone new.

The first component is having the insurer actually receive correct notification through the exchange that someone wants to purchase a policy at the posted price. From press reports of IT vendor issues, we know this is not happening. This disconnect will keep in the headlines through 2014 and dangerously close to the midterm elections for the administration.

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