Obamacare sign-ups in October released, well below expectations
DENVER — About 106,000 people selected private health plans under ObamaCare in the program’s first month, a number released Wednesday that’s far below the White House’s initial goals and reflective of the ongoing problems with the enrollment website.
One quarter of those people — 27,000 — came through the flawed HealthCare.gov site, which is used by 36 states.
The rest enrolled in the 14 states, including Colorado, and Washington D.C., that are running their own enrollment system, most of which are generally operating much more efficiently than the federal site.
Colorado has seen 20,492 people complete applications so far, according to the HHS numbers. Of those, 3,736 have purchased a plan.
Connect for Health Colorado, the state’s exchange, announced later Wednesday that it’s launching a $4.2 million media blitz, which includes five 30-second TV spots, aimed at boosting enrollment numbers on the site.
California leads the country with 35,364 people having bought plans in the first month, outpacing the federal government’s site.
The 106,000 people in total is about a fifth of the administration’s goal for the exchanges’ first month.
Some 975,407 people have looked at Obamacare marketplaces and are still shopping for plans.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released the enrollment figure Wednesday after six weeks of pressure from the media to reveal how the botched registration effort is proceeding.HHS reported that 106,185 people have selected plans from the state-by-state marketplaces designed to connect the uninsured with private healthcare coverage.
Another 396,261 have been determined eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which are public programs that provide health insurance to low-income Americans, officials said.
“We expect enrollment will grow substantially throughout the next five months,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement. “They’re also numbers that will grow as the website, HealthCare.gov, continues to make steady improvements.”
Wednesday’s release represents a major milestone in the ongoing saga over the exchanges’ roll-out. The system was effectively closed to most users for the first month because of serious technical flaws.
The White House said repeatedly that it expected the numbers to be low because of the website and is optimistic that the numbers will be more in line with original goals by the end of March 2014, when open enrollment ends.
But the deluge of negative press coverage of the new health care law’s troubled roll-out is starting to worry Democrats in Washington, some of whom are already breaking with the White House and offering solutions aimed at changing the law to appease an anxious and mislead electorate.
Colorado Sen. Mark Udall on Wednesday became the third senate Democrat to introduce legislation that would change the Affordable Care Act in an effort to make good on President Obama’s failed promise that “if you like your plan, you can keep it.”