In it, but not of it. TPM DC

What Today's New Obamacare Enrollment Numbers Mean

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AP Photo / Jon Elswick

The administration previously said that preliminary enrollment figures rose sharply in the first two days of December, after HealthCare.gov was officially fixed. December data was not included in the report HHS released Wednesday. Officials have long predicted that sign ups would surge ahead of the the first enrollment deadline, which is now Dec. 23, after being pushed back from Dec. 15. People who sign up by Dec. 23 are assured of having coverage in place as of Jan. 1, when many existing individual health care plans expire.

As in October, the 15 state-based marketplaces continued to outpace HealthCare.gov, serving 36 states, in enrollment. They have combined to enroll more than 227,000 in the last two months, while 137,000 have signed up through the federal website, which the administration did not officially declare fixed until the end of November.

California (107,087), New York (45,513), and Florida (17,908) have recorded the most enrollments in the first two months. The first two are running their own marketplaces; Florida is using HealthCare.gov. But the website's struggles still seem to have slowed enrollment in larger states: Kentucky (13,145), which built its own website, signed up nearly as many people as Texas (14,038), which has relied on HealthCare.gov.

However, HealthCare.gov did increase its rate of enrollment at a much faster rate than the state-based marketplaces. The federal website's enrollment went from less than 27,000 in October to 137,000 by the end of November; the combined state website total grew from about 80,000 to 227,000.

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According to HHS, 1.9 million people have had their eligibility for a plan and financial assistance determined, but have not selected a health plan yet. That population will be a focal point for the administration in the next few weeks, as the Dec. 23 deadline approaches to enroll in coverage that starts in January.

"We are in an active conversation with individuals who have come into the system and have not completed enrollment for one reason or another to make sure that they know they’re invited back in and that they know the next steps in order to complete their enrollment successfully," Aaron Albright, a spokesman for HHS, told TPM.

One critical unknown is the demographic breakdown of the enrollees, which some experts say is more important than the actual number of enrollments. The administration projected that about 40 percent needed to be young and healthy for Obamacare's finances to work, but has not yet released any data beyond the raw enrollment numbers.

In addition to the 365,000 enrollments in private coverage, the insurance marketplaces have determined more than 800,000 people were eligible for Medicaid -- they either qualified under the law's expansion or were already eligible but not enrolled -- bringing the total number of people being funneled into health coverage through the marketplaces to almost 1.2 million since Oct. 1.

HHS December Obamacare Enrollment Report

About The Author

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Dylan Scott is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. He previously reported for Governing magazine in Washington, D.C., and the Las Vegas Sun. His work has been recognized with a 2013 American Society of Business Publication Editors award for Best Feature Series and a 2010 Associated Press Society of Ohio award for Best Investigative Reporting. He can be reached at dylan@talkingpointsmemo.com.