Obamacare Enrollment Hits 3 Million

Enrollment is only slightly behind schedule, despite website’s early woes.

President Barack Obama smiles while making a statement with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius while making a statement in the briefing room at the White House on February 10, 2012 in Washington, DC. President Obama announced a reversal of his administration's health care rule requiring religious employers to provide women free access to contraception.
National Journal
Sam Baker
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Sam Baker
Jan. 24, 2014, 7:21 a.m.

Obama­care en­roll­ment is only slightly be­hind ex­pect­a­tions, fol­low­ing a surge in en­roll­ment that has brought the total num­ber of sign-ups to 3 mil­lion.

As of this week, 3 mil­lion people have signed up for private cov­er­age through the Af­ford­able Care Act’s in­sur­ance ex­changes, the Health and Hu­man Ser­vices De­part­ment said today. The fig­ure in­cludes state-run mar­ket­places as well as the 36 states us­ing fed­er­al ex­changes through Health­Care.gov.

The fig­ure puts Obama­care en­roll­ment much closer to its ini­tial tar­gets. It’s now ef­fect­ively about a month be­hind sched­ule—des­pite los­ing the bet­ter part of two months to the tech­nic­al prob­lems that ini­tially plagued Health­Care.gov.

Be­fore the site’s launch in Oc­to­ber, the White House had hoped to hit 3.3 mil­lion sign-ups by the end of the year. So, hit­ting 3 mil­lion people about three weeks in­to Janu­ary is still tech­nic­ally be­hind that pace—but not by much.

The ini­tial tar­get was to en­roll about 7 mil­lion people by the end of the open en­roll­ment peri­od. Al­though the White House has since dis­owned that es­tim­ate, it’s on pace to get close to that tar­get by the time the en­roll­ment win­dow closes in March.

En­roll­ment has surged since Health­Care.gov‘s user ex­per­i­ence be­came func­tion­al, re­as­sur­ing White House of­fi­cials that the site’s troubled launch did not turn people off to the over­all concept of ex­plor­ing their op­tions for health in­sur­ance.

Al­though get­ting mil­lions of people covered is the broad pur­pose be­hind health care re­form, the law’s ba­sic sur­viv­al—at least for this year—de­pends more on who signs up. The mar­ket­places need healthy con­sumers to off­set the cost of guar­an­tee­ing cov­er­age to people with pre-ex­ist­ing con­di­tions.

Young adults—who are pre­sumed to be the health­i­est en­rollees—made up roughly 25 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion that had signed up for cov­er­age through the end of Decem­ber. The ini­tial tar­get was closer to 38 per­cent, but young people were al­ways ex­pec­ted to sign up late in the pro­cess, and even 25 to 30 per­cent is prob­ably enough to keep premi­ums re­l­at­ively stable, ac­cord­ing to es­tim­ates from the Kais­er Fam­ily Found­a­tion.

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