A lot of observers of Monday evening's discussion between Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart and Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius concluded that she refused to address – like the entire Obama administration at this point! – how many people have enrolled in ObamaCare.
However, an analysis of the segment, along with the help of a Georgia reporter, indicates that Sebelius may have let the cat out of the bag that the answer is very few (video follows with transcript and commentary):
JON STEWART, HOST: How many have signed up thus far?
KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: Fully enrolled?
SEBELIUS: I can't tell you because I don't know. We are taking applications on the web, on the phone. We'll be giving monthly reports. But I can tell you we've had not only lots of web hits, hundreds of thousands of accounts created. We have lots…
STEWART: So it’s been hundreds of thousands of people have signed up?
SEBELIUS: Of accounts created which means that then they’re going to go shopping.
So according to Sebelius, there’s been “hundreds of thousands of accounts created.” As she indicated, that’s different than actually signing up for insurance.
Things began promisingly enough, and I created my Marketplace account. But every time I tried to log in, I would get a message that said the system wasn't available or my username or password was wrong. I certainly can type incorrectly, but not every time for more than a hundred times.
Watson then spent the rest of the day trying to log in to her account as well as attempting to reach a phone representative:
After trying all day I finally reached a live operator at 4 p.m. He told me the username/password messages were a problem on their end. He didn't know when they would be resolved but did say it tends to happen less during off peak hours (not during my work day).
Readers are advised that this took place on October 7, one week after the exchanges opened and after the websites were down over the weekend supposedly for repairs.
As such, it seems logical to conclude that of the "hundreds of thousands of accounts created," many are like Watson's - just accounts for a possible purchase of insurance in the future.
After all, how many people after opening their account would spend all day trying to log in and attempt to make a purchase? Probably not many, right?
Remember - Watson was getting paid to do so.
Makes you understand why Sebelius and her colleagues within the administration aren't disclosing actual signups as it's quite possible that number is very small in relation to those that either don't have insurance or are shopping for lower premiums thereby making this rollout a total flop.