Only 26,794 People Enrolled Via HealthCare.gov In First Month

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Less than 27,000 Americans have enrolled in private health coverage through HealthCare.gov, the federal insurance marketplace that has been fraught with problems, since the site went live on Oct. 1, the Obama administration announced Wednesday.

The total enrollment in private insurance, including the 15 state-run marketplaces, as of Nov. 2: 106,185. Of those, 79,391 came from state websites, and 26,794 came from HealthCare.gov, which serves the others. In addition, nearly 400,000 have enrolled in Medicaid nationwide, according to the administration.

It’s the first official check-up on the law’s progress after a disastrous launch for HealthCare.gov. The enrollment number covers people who have selected a specific health plan, though they may or may not have paid their first premium yet.

The bottom line is: The federal website is dramatically underperforming. In Texas, which is using HealthCare.gov, less than 3,000 people have enrolled. In California, which built its own marketplace, more than 35,000 have.

The enrollment number of 106,185 comes in well below the White House’s pre-launch expectation of 500,000 enrollments in October.

The administration noted that 106,185 is 1.5 percent of its total 2014 enrollment goal: 7 million. Of those, the White House is aiming to enroll 2.7 million young and healthy adults. The data released Wednesday included no information on the age of enrollees. Federal officials told reporters that they did not have a timeline for releasing demographic data.

According to the administration, about 850,000 applications nationwide have submitted to determine people’s eligibility for coverage and financial assistance under the law.

As health policy experts told TPM prior to the enrollment data’s release, it’s difficult to say how much can really be gleaned from the top-line number. The expectation was always that enrollment would crescendo prior to the law’s two deadlines: Dec. 15 (the last day to sign up for coverage that starts Jan. 1) and March 31 (the last day to sign up for coverage, period).

“I think there’s no number that’s too low,” Tim Jost, a Washington and Lee law professor and supporter of the law, told TPM. “The main thing that we’re going to learn is that the website isn’t working.”

The administration has repeatedly said that HealthCare.gov will be working smoothly for the vast majority of users by the end of November, two weeks before the Dec. 15 deadline.

The White House’s pre-launch projection was that about 85 percent of the 3.3 million people they expected to enroll before the end of the year would sign up in November and December.

Asked by TPM if those later enrollment targets were still attainable after the weak first month, federal officials said they were confident that people would be able to enroll.

“In terms of making sure consumers will be able to apply and enroll in coverage whenever they choose to do so, we are confident that we are on track for that to happen,” Julie Bataille, spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said.

Earlier this week, the federal website started reaching back out via email to consumers who had been stymied by its problem in the opening days. Bataille said in response to a question from TPM that that outreach had begun because the administration believes the site is functioning well enough to handle them.

“That is a sign that, because of the fixes we have put in place, we are seeing continued improvements week by week,” she said. “It’s an open invitation for those consumers who we know have been frustrated, especially those in that initial time period, who have so many problems, should come back to the site.”

The marketplaces were also always intended as a portal for people to enroll in Medicaid if their state expanded the program under Obamacare. So far, 396,261 people have enrolled in Medicaid through HealthCare.gov and the state websites.

Again, the state marketplaces seem to be outperforming HealthCare.gov on Medicaid: 212,865 have enrolled through the state websites; 183,396 through the federal site.

HHS Obamacare Enrollment Report.pdf by tpmdocs

Your Guide To Understanding The Obamacare Enrollment Numbers

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