The US Department of Health and Human Services admitted it padded enrollment figures for Affordable Care Act health insurance plans by adding nearly 400,000 dental subscribers, raising the total number of enrollees to more than 7 million.
That brings the final enrollment figure for last year’s open enrollment period to 6.7 million, a spokesperson for the HHS said today. That puts total enrollment just short of a 2013 estimate by the Congressional Budget Office, which anticipated that 7 million people would be enrolled in the health insurance law’s first year.
“The mistake we made is unacceptable,” said HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, confirming the department will no longer include dental plans in its calculations. “I will be communicating that clearly throughout the department.”
The error was made public after Republican investigators with the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee mined data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Rep. Darrell Issa, a California Republican and chairman of the Oversight Committee, accused the HHS of attempting to persuade the public of the law’s effectiveness.
“After touting 8 million initial sign-ups for medical plans, four months later they engaged in a concerted effort to obscure a heavy drop-out rate of perhaps a million or more enrollees by quietly adding in dental plan sign-ups to exchange numbers,” Issa told Bloomberg.