Fox Cherry-Picks Obamacare Data To Underestimate Enrollment By More Than Half

Fox News cherry-picked early Affordable Care Act (ACA) enrollment numbers to claim that the new health system rollout was underperforming by enrolling just 51,000, ignoring state figures that more than double that number.

On the October 11 Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy cited claims from two Department of Health and Human Services employees that 51,000 people had signed up for new health coverage under the ACA in the first week of open enrollment, noting, “Remember, we thought it would be in the millions” and claiming that “at this rate, they extrapolate, by the end of this year, just 2 million people will have been signed up. Remember, they need to have at least 7 million people sign up.” Co-host Brian Kilmeade suggested that these numbers showed that the federal exchange had “failed miserably,” and Doocy pointed out that the exchange in Obama's home state of Hawaii had registered “zero” people.

Fox failed to note that the “7 million” figure was a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimate of the overall enrollment expected by January as a result of the full healthcare overhaul, not just enrollment expected on the federally-run exchange. Fox ignored the tens of thousands of additional enrollees from the states that are operating independent exchanges. A Washington Post graphic mapped the states that are running their own health insurance marketplaces: 

According to Bloomberg, 28,699 additional people signed up for California's health exchange and New York enrolled a further 40,000 -- together more than doubling Fox's figure. The New York Times reported that another 30,706 applications were submitted in Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Washington, and Rhode Island by October 8.

Fox's single example of the progress state-based exchanges are making was Hawaii, which did not open for enrollment on schedule and " hasn't been able to sell any insurance in Hawaii because of problems with the software at the heart of the marketplace." The state is aiming for an October 15 relaunch.