If there's anyone qualified to bring up a question about insurance and the new online exchange set up in Washington state, it's Chris Free, insurance consultant, co-principal of Tacoma's Rapport Benefits Group, and chairman of the Washington Business Alliance's Health committee.
And there's one important question that he hasn't heard an answer to quite yet.
“There's tons of statistics,” said Free. “How many people enrolled? How many people signed up? How many people got subsidies? How many people were re-qualified for Medicaid — all of these things, it's just on and on.
“But what was the goal of the Affordable Care Act?” Free asked. “To cover the uninsured, right?
“Nowhere is anybody saying the number of uninsured that are now covered. If that was the key metric, why are we talking about '7 million people enrolled'? What if 6.99 people already had health insurance, and we just re-enrolled them on new coverage and spent hundreds of millions of dollars building websites to do that?
“How many uninsured did we cover? I can tell you for a fact that Washington state's exchange doesn't track that number. There are legislators in our legislature who are very mad about that.”
That's happening across the country, Free said, with state exchanges neglecting to measure that specific metric.
“Somebody needs to be talking about the prize here. Keep your eye on the prize, right? The prize was covering the uninsured. Did we get that? We're not sure.”