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POLITICS: PennAve

3.3 million people sign up for Obamacare

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Politics,White House,Brian Hughes,Barack Obama,Obamacare,Health Care,PennAve,Kathleen Sebelius

The Obama administration announced Wednesday that 3.3 million people had signed up for Obamacare by Feb. 1, still short of original projections but an uptick in enrollment over the past month.

In January, 1.1 million people signed up for a new health plan through the federal and state exchanges. Health and Human Service Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that enrollment in January had increased by 53 percent compared to the past three months.

However, that figure reflects just how dismal sign-ups were in the wake of the botched rollout of healthcare.gov on Oct. 1. The administration originally estimated roughly 4.4 million people would enroll in Obamacare by the end of January.

“These encouraging trends show that more Americans are enrolling every day, and finding quality, affordable coverage in the Marketplace,” Sebelius said. “There is still plenty of time for you and your family to sign up in a private plan of your choice, so visit healthcare.gov to learn more and sign up. Open enrollment ends March 31.”

The administration said that 27 percent of January enrollees were between the ages of 18 and 34. That's a slight increase compared to previous months — however, the youngest age group still accounts for just a quarter of all sign-ups.

For Obamacare to work, the White House needs younger, healthier people to sign up at higher rates to keep down premium costs for older, sicker patients.

The administration originally projected that 40 percent of all enrollments would come from the youngest demographic.

And Republicans were not impressed with the latest figures.

"With embarrassing failures, broken promises, shifting deadlines and miserable enrollment numbers, the last few months have been a rolling catastrophe," said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. "Under penalty of higher taxes, Americans are mandated by law to have a plan, but they're still resisting Obamacare."

The administration was unable to outline how many of the enrollees were previously uninsured or what percentage of people had actually paid for new health plans.

Republicans contend that most people now signing up for Obamacare already had health insurance. A recent survey from McKinsey & Co. estimated that just 11 percent of those enrolling in Obamacare plans were uninsured.

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Author:

Brian Hughes

White House Correspondent
The Washington Examiner