New Obamacare figures: 975,000 in December
By: Jonathan Allen
December 29, 2013 08:33 AM EST
Nearly 1 million people signed up for health insurance through the federal Obamacare exchanges between Dec. 1 and the Dec. 24 deadline for getting coverage by the start of the new year, according to figures released by the administration Sunday.
The 975,000 people who enrolled during that window bring the total number of federal sign-ups to more than 1.1 million since the rocky rollout of the government’s Healthcare.gov website on Oct. 1.
“We experienced a welcome surge in enrollment as millions of Americans seek access to affordable health care coverage through new Health Insurance Marketplaces nationwide,” Marilyn Tavenner, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, wrote in a blog post announcing the numbers.
Tavenner reported a late spike in enrollment in which the last few days before the deadline saw nearly twice as many people sign up as had done so in the first three weeks of the month.
The administration did not release figures showing the mix of the enrollment pool — whether enough young and healthy folks are signing up to balance out older and sicker consumers — which is considered by many experts to be the most important metric in assessing the success of the insurance exchanges.
Still, the late sign-ups track with federal officials’ long-held expectation that folks would wait until closer to deadlines to buy insurance plans. While Christmas Eve was the cutoff for enrolling in time for coverage by Jan. 1, the open enrollment period lasts until the end of March. Folks who sign up between now and then will be covered only for the period after they have enrolled.
“We are in the middle of a sustained, six-month open enrollment period that we expect to see enrollment ramp up over time, much like other historic implementation efforts we’ve seen in Massachusetts and Medicare Part D,” Tavenner wrote.
The enrollment tabulation represents the number of people who have completed the application and plan-selection process but does not make a distinction between those who have paid for insurance plans and those who have not. That, White House officials say, is a matter for the insurance companies.