Obamacare's enrollment reports are coming to an end. That's disappointing. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Where Did the Obamacare Data Go?

Megan McArdle is a Bloomberg View columnist. She wrote for the Daily Beast, Newsweek, the Atlantic and the Economist and founded the blog Asymmetrical Information. She is the author of “The Up Side of Down: Why Failing Well Is the Key to Success.”
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The most transparent administration in history has decided to discontinue the monthly Affordable Care Act enrollment reports now that open enrollment is closed. And why shouldn't it? you ask. After all, open enrollment is, well, closed.

"HHS issued monthly enrollment reports during the first marketplace open enrollment period in order to provide the best understanding of enrollment activities as it was taking place," according to a Department of Health and Human Services representative. "Now that this time period has ended, we will look at future opportunities to share information about the marketplace that is reliable and accurate over time as further analysis can be done but we do not anticipate monthly reports."

But while the official open enrollment period is closed, that doesn't mean that activity on the health-insurance exchanges has shut down. People who have experienced a "qualifying life event" -- getting a job, having a baby or moving to another state, among others -- are still eligible to enroll in an exchange policy.

Meanwhile, other people will be exiting the system -- they will get a job that has benefits, marry someone with benefits, or just stop making their payments and go without insurance. The Barack Obama administration should by now be getting fairly accurate estimates of how many of the 8 million enrollees they reported are actually in the system. It is disappointing in the extreme that they would stop reporting these figures just as more accurate data is becoming available.

Moreover, it's hard to understand why it would stop reporting. Pulling together a report takes work, of course. But it's not like it needs to do extensive research in order to gather much of this data; it needs to know the numbers in order to run the system.

And, of course, voters need to know these numbers in order to evaluate the signature legislative achievement of this administration and the many members of Congress who will be standing for re-election come November. It seems that the Department of Health and Human Services could probably afford to detail a couple of staffers to make sure that this report continues to be produced.

Updates with statement from the Department of Health and Human Services in second paragraph.

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To contact the author on this story:
Megan McArdle at mmcardle3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor on this story:
Brooke Sample at bsample1@bloomberg.net