Not so funny: Illinois nowhere near Obamacare goals


By Benjamin Yount | Illinois Watchdog

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Apparently, America forgot to laugh.

It’s becoming apparent those “funny” stories on the Onion and cringe-worthy lists on Buzzfeed — the ones designed to recruit young people to Obamacare — have failed.

Illinois is on pace to miss its Obamacare goal by more than 100,000 people, and that’s a best-case scenario.

THE NUMBERS DON’T LOOK GOOD: Illinois needs a miracle to make its Obamacare sign-up goal.

Illinois wants 300,000 people to sign up for private insurance through Obamacare by March 31. For that to happen, more people will have to sign up in the next two weeks than have signed up in the past five months.

“Numbers for the first five months of enrollment under the Affordable Care Act (show) that 113,733 people enrolled in the Illinois Health Insurance Marketplace,” a statement from Get Covered Illinois reads.

The enrollment figures do not include a breakdown of how many people have actually paid for private insurance through Obamacare, nor do they show how many people are getting insurance for the first time.

Not many, state Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford, said.

“The number of uninsured individuals, people who did not have insurance in 2013 verses now, you’re talking about well under 50,000 people,” Syverson said.

A GOP senator who sits on the Legislature’s important COGFA commission, Syverson said most of the 113,733 who have signed up for coverage have matriculated from other insurance policies.

“(These) were people who had previous coverage and are signing-up now because they are going to get some assistance for it.”

Get Covered Illinois says 77 percent of people who have signed-up are eligible for some sort of government subsidy, yet hundreds of thousands more are going directly on to government health-care rolls.

Illinois has seen 315,000 people enroll in Medicaid since Obamacare launched, and Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration says as many as 430,000 could enroll by the end of 2014.

“That’s 315,000 right now. We thought we’re going to be at 200,000 this year,” Illinois Healthcare and Family Services’ Director Julie Hamos told lawmakers late last month.

Syverson said the explosion of Medicaid will drive costs up by nearly $1 billion this year. Illinois spent $13 billion on Medicaid last year.

Get Covered Illinois is trying to spin things in a positive direction, saying “approximately 200,000 people” have enrolled in Medicaid through Obamacare. But that figure neglects to note people already eligible for the government program or the 82,000 people pushed to Medicaid in Illinois through the national Obamacare website,

Syverson said it is no longer a question of whether Obamacare is a failure, but a question of what can lawmakers do to fix it.

“(The Democrats’) idea of fixing it is, ‘Don’t expand private markets. Move more people to Medicaid. There needs to be incremental steps to move it back to the private sector, to the free enterprise system that was working before.”

Contact Benjamin Yount at and find him on Twitter @BenYount.

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