Obama admin releases Obamacare enrollment numbers, and they’re devastatingly low

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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Only 27,794 Americans managed to push their way through Obamacare’s federal website far enough to pick a commercial health-care plan that could work for them, according to the Obama administration.

Overall, 106,185 used the federal or state exchanges to select one of the government-compliant health-care plans for use in 2014, according to a Wednesday statement by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Those 106,185 sign-ups, if they pay their first premiums by Dec. 15, will represent a mere 1.5 percent of the 7 million total enrollments the Obama administration is aiming for in the first six months of the program.

The statement did not say how many of the 106,185 have confirmed their choice with an insurance company, or paid their first premiums, which are due Dec. 15.

The statement also did not describe the average monthly premiums of the selected plans.

Also, 975,407 people have gotten though the first few stages of the complex, crippled federal and state websites, including the 106,185 people who have picked a plan.

States have also added 396,261 people to Medicare via state and federal mechanisms, often by bypassing the crippled websites and adding people’s name to Medicare lists.

The administration hoped to have 3.3 million signed up for Obamacare-compliant commercial insurance after three months, and 7 million signed up after 6 months.

“The market is working and people are enrolling,” Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of Health and Human Services said Wednesday. People take time before making a purchase, she told reporters.

“We intend to put out more detailed information as we go forward,” Sebelius said when asked if the system is enrolling enough young, healthy people to offset the huge costs of older sicker people, and of poor people who will get expensive federal subsidies. However, officials said that 326,130 of the 1,081,592 applications qualify for federal subsidies.

Officials said they are trying to improve the operation of the federal website, which is linked to a complex series of databases operated by states, federal agencies and insurance companies.

“The site will be working smoothly for the vast majority of users … users will be able to move faster through the system … experience less time-outs, and complete their application and enrollment in one sitting,” said Julie Bataille, the director of the Office of Communications Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

However, Sebelius suggested the site would have difficulty in handling some groups of people, such as families that include citizens and legal immigrants.

Bataille said the “error rate” at the website has dropped from six percent to one percent.

However, she did not explain how many opportunities there are for errors when a person is trying to sign up for a commercial plan.

To offset the clogged website, the government has hired more than 18,000 aides, dubbed “navigators,” Bataille said.

But officials want people to apply as soon as possible, because officials may have even more technical problems if a crush of people try to sign up in the last two week before the Dec. 15 or March deadlines.

“It is running right now. … Don’t wait until the 30th of November,” Sebelius urged Americans.

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Neil Munro