POLITICS: PennAve

Obama: Health law enrollment likely to fall short of 7 million target

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Politics,White House,Barack Obama,Obamacare,Health Care,PennAve,Meghashyam Mali,Healthcare.gov,Health Care Exchanges

President Obama acknowledged in an interview that enrollment in Obamacare exchanges would likely fall short of the initial 7 million target, saying he expected the final tally to be “reasonably close” to that 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,” said Obama in an interview with CBS News’ Scott Pelley taped Friday and aired on Monday — the last day of the open enrollment period for the health law’s insurance exchanges.

“And in terms of the mix, what we've seen as we anticipated is that more young people are signing up late than early. But, given how gloomy I think everybody's assessment was back in the middle of November, I'd say that we're on our way to making sure that no American ever has to go without health care,” said Obama, touting the final enrollment push.

On March 27, the administration said that 6 million consumers had signed up for Obamacare so far and in the days since have touted a surge of interest at healthcare.gov, call centers and at in-person registration centers.

But the final day of enrollment was plagued by numerous technical glitches. The administration though said those issues were fixed by mid-afternoon and reminded consumers that they would have extra time to finish their enrollment after the March 31 deadline.

The Obama administration is allowing consumers who began their enrollment before the deadline to finish their applications late. But critics say the latest blown deadline is to help the administration reach its 7 million target and point out that no efforts will be taken to verify late applications.

Questions also remain about the total number of previously uninsured and how many consumers have actually paid the first month’s premium necessary for coverage to kick in.

Earlier Monday, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that according to some insurers as many as 80 percent to 90 percent of consumers had paid their premium.

“The customers pay their companies. This is private insurance in the private market tell us that for their initial customers it’s somewhere between 80 and 85 — some say as high as 90 percent — have paid so far,” said Sebelius.

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