News

Obamacare enrollment tops 7M mark

Obamacare enrollment tops 7M mark

HEALTHCARE HURDLES:More than 6 million people had signed up for private health coverage through the new Obamacare insurance markets by last week, surpassing a target set after a disastrous October rollout called the enrollment process into question. With daily volumes continuing to surge, analysts believe the final tally could approach or even exceed an original goal of 7 million. Photo: Associated Press

By Jeff Mason and David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama’s national healthcare program was on track to reach its goal of covering 7 million Americans, administration officials said on Tuesday, a victory for the White House after a months-long, glitch-filled rollout.

Obama is scheduled to make a statement about the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, at 4:15 p.m. EDT in the White House.

Obama’s remarks could be the start of a victory lap for his administration, which suffered from the botched unveiling of the program’s primary website, HealthCare.gov, and wavering support from Americans years after the healthcare law passed over Republican objections.

Officials did not provide exact updated figures, but the uptick in enrollment was in line with what experts predicted and it represented what the White House has called a comeback story that could boost Democrats in the November congressional elections.

Monday’s deadline for initial enrollment in the program came after a surge in registrations despite the return of technical problems, including a longer-than-expected maintenance session, although nothing as serious as the issues that beset the website’s launch in October.

The site on Tuesday announced that open enrollment for Obamacare had closed, but people whose applications were thwarted by technical problems would be given a chance to finish their registration.

By last week, more than 6 million people had signed up for private health coverage through the new Obamacare insurance markets, surpassing a target set after the disastrous rollout called the enrollment process into question.

Despite the figures, some questions about those who had signed up lingered.

“We still have a lot to learn about what underlies those numbers in terms of who signed up and how many were newly insured people versus switching from other coverage,” said Karen Pollitz, a senior fellow at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

“We have more to see … about how many of them actually completed enrollment and how much coverage expansion was accomplished.”

The healthcare law, one of Obama’s key promises as a presidential candidate in 2008, was intended to expand access to healthcare coverage for millions of uninsured Americans, so having enrollment figures that reflect newly insured people is critical to the program’s success.

Obama administration officials said on Tuesday the late surge in enrollment put the program “on track” to reach 7 million registrants, which was its original goal.

“We admittedly had just a terrible start because the website wasn’t working, and despite losing effectively two months, we are going to be reasonably close to that original projection,” Obama said in an interview aired on Monday on “The CBS Evening News.”

Joanne Peters, spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said that in addition to record traffic on the website, The Medicare & Medicaid phone center handled a record number of calls.

Democrats and Republicans are locked in an election-year battle with Republicans over the future of Obamacare. House Speaker John Boehner on Monday pledged once again to repeal the program.

(Additional reporting by Bill Trott, editing by G Crosse)

Recent Headlines

in Music

This week’s top country tracks

Zac Brown as Zac Brown Band performs during Music Midtown 2014 at Piedmont Park on Saturday, Sep. 20, 2014, in Atlanta.

LISTEN: This week's top country tracks, according to the latest Billboard chart.

in Entertainment

‘Siri, can you give me a hint?’ Apple confirms September event

16-overlay14

The rumors are true: Apple will host an event Sept. 9 in San Francisco.

in Viral Videos

This is one way to get a tan

10-overlay22

It's summer and the beaches are packed - so this guy got some private sunbathing time while sky high.

in Entertainment

Netflix drug drama ‘Narcos’ blurs line between cartels, agents

11-overlay7

Not all cops are good guys and not all drug suppliers are obvious villains in the dark drug drama "Narcos," a bilingual examination of the history of cocaine smuggling in America and its most menacing supplier.

in Entertainment

The secret to Rob Lowe’s ageless face

17-overlay12

The 51-year-old actor will star in a new series this fall, "The Grinder," and still looks as good as ever.