California's surge in Obamacare enrollment in November could be the first sign for the federal government that higher participation in the new health insurance exchanges is on the horizon.
The Health and Human Services Department reported Wednesday afternoon that between Oct. 1 and Nov. 2, California enrolled more than 35,000 individuals. The executive director of Covered California, Peter Lee, reported late Wednesday that as of Nov. 12, 60,000 Californians had signed up for insurance, increasing to a rate of almost 2,500 enrollees per day in November.
"Covered California's goal is to insure every Californian," Lee said. "I am confident that we are going to hit that target of 500,000 to 700,000 people by the end of March."
California has the highest uninsured population in the country — roughly 7 million people. The state opted to run its own exchange and is one of 14 states not using the federal site, HealthCare.gov.
"We are pleased with where we are today," Lee said of the state's website, CoveredCa.com.
Covered California and the state's Department of Health Care Services conducted a survey of people who completed the enrollment process in the last three weeks of October. The survey found 70 percent of consumers thought the enrollment process was easy to complete, and 88 percent reported finding enough information to determine which health plan was right for them.
California's enrollment numbers surpassed the total enrollment in the 36 states that depend on HealthCare.gov.
In total, 26,794 people signed up for coverage in the federal marketplace as of Nov. 2. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said she expects a late peak of applications.
"We're confident that as more people across this country learn about their options, more people will find a plan that meets their needs and enroll in coverage," Sebelius said.
Both HHS and Covered California defined "enrollment" as selecting an insurance plan in the marketplace, meaning people who have not yet paid their premiums and completed the coverage process with their insurer are counted in the totals.
As of Nov. 2, a total of 106,185 Americans in both the state and federal exchanges had chosen health insurance plans made newly available by the Affordable Care Act.