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November health exchange signups double
« on: December 11, 2013, 09:21:30 AM »

 November health exchange signups double
By: Kyle Cheney
December 11, 2013 09:03 AM EST

About 260,000 people enrolled in Obamacare exchanges in November, according to official data released Wednesday morning. That’s more than double the dismal October sign-up rate but still a low monthly number that reflects’s protracted technical problems.

Since enrollment started Oct 1, about 365,000 people have signed up in new exchanges. That includes both, the federal website which serves 36 states, and the state-run exchanges. That’s still well below the expectations for the first two months.

More than 803,000 low-income people were found eligible for Medicaid, which has been seen as a bright spot in the poor start.

The two groups — exchanges and Medicaid— means that nearly 1.2 million people are now in line for coverage under Obamacare.

President Barack Obama’s health law has been plagued by controversy since the very beginning and the first two months of the rollout have been full of contention and setbacks for the administration. The website barely functioned in October and went through weeks of intensive repairs. It’s now working but imperfectly.

Republicans have pounded the White House for broken promises to Americans who had expected to keep their current health plans. And insurers are warning that bugs in the system may create havoc in January when some people may discover that they aren’t properly signed up in the plan they selected.

Still administration officials saw enough progress in the past few weeks in the website and a faster pace of enrollment to project optimism.

Mike Hash, who heads the health reform office at the Department of Health and Human Services, told reporters on a call Tuesday night he believes that the target of 7 million people enrolled by the end of March is still possible.

“We think we’re on track,” he said, with a massive surge expected to come in the final weeks of open enrollment in March. “We’re only two-and-a-half months into a six-month open enrollment period.”

The call was noteworthy for what it omitted. Officials declined to release key enrollment measures that Hash himself acknowledged are important to evaluating the success or failure of the health law. Officials gave no breakdown of ages of enrollees, for instance. The insurance exchanges need significant participation by young, presumably healthy adults to offset the cost of covering older, sicker enrollees.

Hash said the exchanges should be measured not just by the number of enrollees but by “who signs up and where.” But he provided no such breakdown.

The HHS report did show some signs that enrollment could pick up now that the website is working more smoothly.

Although only 365,000 had selected a health plan, another 1.9 million had gone far enough through the balky enrollment process to confirm their eligibility for the exchange. The site also has also had more than 39 million visitors.

The early signs are that fewer people than expected will qualify for subsidized coverage — just 41 percent of the 2.3 million people eligible so far for the exchanges. The Congressional Budget Office previously estimated that 90 percent of exchange enrollees would get financial assistance.

While overall enrollment through November was short of early goals, the month’s results are a sign of’s improved condition. About 110,000 people enrolled through the federal portal in November compared to fewer than 27,000 in October, when the website crashed frequently and error messages abounded..

“The web site is night and day from where it was on Oct. 1,” Hash said.

The Obama administration released the figures about an hour before HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’s appearance Wednesday morning before a hostile, GOP-led House committee on Capitol Hill. It also comes 10 days after the administration said they had successfully revamped following a six week “tech surge.”

POLITICO reported last week that those repairs yielded about 29,000 sign-ups in the first two days of December. The administration has yet to give any fuller post-repair update.

With the Dec. 23 deadline for signing up for health insurance that begins Jan. 1 now less than two weeks away, it’s still unclear how many will have coverage in effect on New Year’s Day. The data released Wednesday show who has picked a plan. Not all have made their first premium payments.

And persistent problems that both the state and federal exchanges have had in delivering accurate enrollment data to the insurance companies have raised the prospect that some applicants could unknowingly wind up uninsured in January. Between 10 percent and 25 percent of enrollments in October and November were flawed, the administration revealed last week.

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Offline Rapunzel

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Re: November health exchange signups double
« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2013, 01:31:05 PM »
Gotta keep all the free shit voters happy.
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