Photo: Pete Souza

Photo: Pete Souza

The Obama administration claims to have hit—and might even surpass—its (already lowered) goal of 6 million exchange enrollees for 2014.

But the reported enrollment surge begs three critical questions:

1. Have they paid premiums?

Far more important than the number of people who have picked a plan is the number of people who have paid their premiums. Without paying the premium, they have not effectively gained insurance coverage. It is likely that there will be a significant portion who do not pay their premiums in time to gain coverage, meaning actual enrollment numbers will turn out to be lower.

2. How old are they?

The last detailed report released showed that the demographics weren’t adding up the way the Obama administration wanted. It had pegged the goal for the proportion of young adults (18-34) at 40 percent of total enrollees, and the latest report showed them accounting for only 27 percent.

3. What’s their health status?

This question is closely related to the age question. The reason young people are needed is because they are generally healthier than older people. They pay into the system with premiums but have relatively low medical claims, helping to balance out costs for insurers. Are the exchange enrollees the type of patients usually found in a high-risk pool, or are healthy people attracted to Obamacare, too?