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Saturday, January 18, 2014
Hawaii: The Laughing Stock of Obamacare
By Selected News Articles @ 3:24 AM :: 7235 Views :: Hawaii Statistics, Health Care

5 States That Are Holding Obamacare Back

by Sean Williams, The Motley Fool, Jan 17th 2014

The enrollment surge in Obamacare last month was incredible. State and federal enrollments combined for a 490% increase to 2.15 million people through Dec. 28, up from just shy of 365,000 enrollees at the end of November. The Dec. 24 coverage cutoff date certainly had something to do with that increase, but the tech surge that led to the Healthcare.gov fix played a major role in allowing users to gain nearly full use of the website after two months of persistent technical glitches.

The end result, as you can see above, was a dramatic surge in enrollments in the federal marketplace in December. While enrollment figures haven't matched up with the Department of Health and Human Services' lofty goal of 7 million new members, they very well could as procrastinators and people who've filled out their applications but have not selected a plan finally do so before the March 31 deadline.

Yesterday we took a closer look at five of the most important states leading the Obamacare charge. These five states account for roughly 48% of the cumulative 2.15 million paying members that have signed up. Extrapolate that further and the top nine states are responsible for nearly 62% of cumulative enrollment thus far.

On the flipside, though, we have a handful of states that can only be described as the laughing stocks of Obamacare because their contribution toward that 7 million person enrollment target has been absolutely abysmal. A few states have excuses, but many don't....

Here are the five most disappointing states thus far with regard to enrollment:

State

# of Individuals That Have Selected a Marketplace Plan

Hawaii

2,192

North Dakota

2,624

South Dakota

3,194

Delaware

3,273

Alaska

3,356

Source: Department of Health and Human Services (link opens PDF)

Whereas the top nine states combined for nearly 62% of total enrollment, these five states are responsible for a paltry 0.68% of total enrollees.

As we saw with the leading enrollment states yesterday, population density does have a role in boosting figures. In other words, we would expect higher population states like California with its 38.3 million-plus residents to contribute more new members than a state like North Dakota, which had fewer than 724,000 according to the 2013 estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.

But none of these states really deserves a pass on account of population as their percentage of enrollments relative to their state's population is comparatively lower than the national average. According to the latest HHS report, 2,153,402 people have enrolled out of 316,128,839 people in the U.S., which works out to about a 0.68% average. By comparison, the five aforementioned states have delivered an Obamacare conversion rate of just 0.16% for Hawaii, 0.35% for Delaware, 0.36% for North Dakota, 0.38% for South Dakota, and finally 0.46% for Alaska. Yes, these states do have fewer residents, but they are also trailing the national signup percentage significantly. With the exception of Massachusetts and Vermont, which both had single-digit uninsured rates prior to Obamacare's implementation, these five states really have no excuse and certainly dragging down Obamacare's results.

The worst of the worst
What's truly astonishing within this group is just how poorly Hawaii's state-run exchange has operated considering Oregon's health exchange didn't even get off the ground until late December and Vermont's has been working almost exclusively by phone or online for a few hours a day while reserving the night hours for ongoing IT maintenance.

What shouldn't come as a surprise, though, is the company behind Hawaii's health exchange, known as the Health Connector. I hope you are sitting down for this, because that company is none other than CGI Group . That's right; the same company that designed the federally run Obamacare website, as well as Vermont's glitch-filled health exchange, also received a $53 million contract to be the lead architect behind Hawaii's health exchange.

The result has been anything from a tropical paradise. Constant technical issues have allowed just a fraction of the some 100,000 people that are expected to benefit from Obamacare to sign up thus far. Furthermore, the federal government, according to a report from CBS News, gave Hawaii $203.4 million in federal funds to operate the Connector -- which is a whopping $92,792 per enrollee thus far! If Obamacare enrollments fail to reach their 7 million person mark, Hawaii will almost certain be cast some blame.

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