Covering ACA numbers? The semantics matter

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

Kyle Cheney

Kyle Cheney

With big new sign-up numbers coming out of the state and federal exchanges, Politico health care reporter Kyle Cheney reports on what the numbers mean. Enrolled? Selected? Covered? The differences matter. 

Loose characterizations by allies and enemies of how many people have signed up, (more than 7 million as of April 1) have led to rampant – often verifiably incorrect – interpretations in the press. That matters.  The way news reports characterize enrollment could  tilt the national narrative about the health law in a tense election year.

There are subtle but significant differences between the number of people “signed up” for ACA plans and the number actually “enrolled.” And there’s an even greater difference,  for the short term, between the number of enrollees and the number of people who have “coverage.”

Here’s a tip sheet with some help in avoiding getting caught up in the enrollment spin.

1 thought on “Covering ACA numbers? The semantics matter

  1. Bob Ray

    Kyle pls check dictionary definitions
    Of ‘enroll.’
    Generally they say it’s to put a name on a list. One has ‘signup’ as a
    Synonym. Even healthcare.gov says the ‘deadline for enrollment
    Is march 31.’ Reuters calls the 7 million
    As the enrollment.
    I believe your definition is too narrow.
    Bob

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