"We now have well over 3.5 million people who have signed up and are getting insurance through the marketplaces for the first time," President Obama claimed at a speech to House Democrats on Friday. He added, "That does not count the close to 7 million folks who have signed up for Medicaid because of the law that you passed."
On Wednesday, the Department of Health and Human Services claimed that 3.3 million individuals had enrolled in a private health care plan through Obama's health care law through January, but those numbers were likely inflated.
In the report, HHS counted individuals as being enrolled merely if they selected a health insurance plan through one of Obamacare's insurance exchanges. But the agency still hasn't disclosed how many of those individuals have actually paid premiums for those plans, which is how insurers typically define enrollment.
On Friday, the New York Times reported that "[o]ne in five people who signed up for health insurance under the new health care law failed to pay their premiums on time and therefore did not receive coverage in January, insurance companies and industry experts say."
HHS hasn't released payment data, insisting that they don't have it because insurers are the ones who handle the payments once individuals have selected plans through the exchanges. The system that was supposed to transfer subsidy money from the federal government to insurers has not yet been built.
And the problem with the Medicaid estimate is includes people who would have enrolled in the existing program with or without the expansion ushered in by the health care law.
A study by health care firm Avalere released last week, before the latest HHS numbers were announced, estimated that just 1.1 million to 1.8 million people had newly enrolled in Medicaid between October and December as a result of Obamacare, which was significantly lower than the 6.3 million that HHS credited to the law for that time period.