Despite major glitches at the launch of Healthcare.gov, things finally seem to be falling into place for the Obama administration, which announced on Sunday that 1.1 million Americans had signed up for an insurance plan through the website. The majority of them — more than 975,000 — had enrolled in December alone, just before the deadline on Dec. 24.
“As we continue our open enrollment campaign, we experienced a welcome surge in enrollment as millions of Americans seek access to affordable health care coverage through new Health Insurance Marketplaces nationwide,” Marilyn Tavenner, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said in a blog post. Enrollment rates “nearly doubled” in the days leading up to the Dec. 24 deadline when compared to the first weeks of December, she said, and they were much larger than the rates of November (137,000) and October (27,000) combined, The Guardian reported.
Tavenner did not, however, report on the number of enrollees who signed up in the 14 states that are running their own exchanges. According to Charles Gaba, a web designer who is tracking enrollment numbers, those numbers are somewhere around 850,000, The Washington Post reported. The numbers are about a million below the 3.3 million expected enrollees, according to a Sept. 5 memo, but government officials are hopeful.
“We are in the middle of a sustained, six-month open enrollment period that we expect to see enrollment ramp up over time, much like other historic implementation efforts we’ve seen in Massachusetts and Medicare Part D,” Tavenner wrote. “We are eager to assist millions more Americans gain the health security offered by the Affordable Care Act in the weeks and months ahead.”
But even with the positive outlook, some politicians have found other things to criticize. “A million Americans?” Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) told Fox News. “I don’t think that’s anything to celebrate. It was a failed launch, a flawed law, and it needs real change.” Public opinion seemed to reflect these sentiments, as the results from a HarrisInteractive/HealthDay poll released last week found that support for repealing Obamacare rose to 36 percent, up from 27 percent in 2011 — most likely due to the problematic roll-out.
Regardless, more people will continue to enroll in the exchanges, and some experts even speculate that enrollment figures will reach the targeted seven-million mark by March. “It is starting to track with what people, particularly the Congressional Budget Office, projected originally,” Larry Levitt, senior vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, told The Post. “December is the first month where federal sign-ups have kept up with state sign-ups, too.”