Obamacare Enrollment Hits 4 Million

President Obama touted the figures as the enrollment drive entered its home stretch,

Mercy Cabrera, an insurance agent with Sunshine Life and Health Advisors, speaks on the phone as she helps a person with information about an insurance policy under the Affordable Care Act at the store setup in the Westland Mall on November 14, 2013 in Hialeah, Florida.
National Journal
Sam Baker
Feb. 25, 2014, 2:14 p.m.

About 4 mil­lion people have now signed up for private in­sur­ance through Obama­care, the Health and Hu­man Ser­vices De­part­ment said Tues­day even­ing.

The latest fig­ures were re­leased just in time for Pres­id­ent Obama’s ad­dress to Or­gan­iz­ing for Ac­tion — the suc­cessor to his cam­paign ap­par­at­us and part of the large net­work of Demo­crat­ic ad­vocacy groups now en­ter­ing the home stretch of a massive en­roll­ment drive.

The win­dow to sign up for cov­er­age closes at the end of next month, and cross­ing the 4 mil­lion mark is a key mile­stone. En­roll­ment has re­covered much of the ground it lost in Oc­to­ber and Novem­ber, when tech­nic­al prob­lems plagued Health­Care.gov, and it now seems all but im­possible that the law will col­lapse on its own, as its Re­pub­lic­an crit­ics pre­dicted.

In light of the is­sues with Health­Care.gov, the Con­gres­sion­al Budget Of­fice now ex­pects roughly 6 mil­lion people to sign up for private cov­er­age this year. HHS would need to end this month with just shy of 1.1 mil­lion sign-ups to be on track for that tar­get; it’s not clear when in Feb­ru­ary it crossed the 4 mil­lion mark.

The en­roll­ment fig­ures come with ad­di­tion­al caveats: They don’t re­flect how many people have ac­tu­ally paid their first premi­um, ac­tiv­at­ing their cov­er­age. That num­ber — which is likely around 20 to 30 per­cent lower than HHS’s fig­ure — is the true meas­ure of en­roll­ment. HHS also hasn’t said how many en­rollees were pre­vi­ously un­in­sured — an­oth­er key met­ric in meas­ur­ing real en­roll­ment against CBO’s ex­pect­a­tions.

Still, rising en­roll­ment is rising en­roll­ment, and every new mile­stone fur­ther so­lid­i­fies the law’s long-term pro­spects. At this point, the White House is con­fid­ent that even after ad­just­ing for un­paid premi­ums and pre­vi­ously in­sured people, the law is look­ing strong enough to make it to 2015 and bey­ond, and be­come part of the fab­ric of the U.S. in­sur­ance mar­ket.

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