Policy: Technology

Obamacare enrollment tops 1 million

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The Obama administration on Sunday touted a holiday surge in enrollment for the health law's new insurance exchanges and said more than 1.1 million consumers are now signed up.

“More than 1.1 million people enrolled in a qualified health plan via the Federally-facilitated Marketplace from October 1 to December 24, with more than 975,000 of those enrolling this month alone,” said Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner in a statement posted online.

“Our enrollment nearly doubled in the days before the January 1 coverage deadline compared to the first few weeks of the month,” she added.

Tavenner said that December's enrollment figures so far had been “over 7 times that of October and November” and attributed that growth to the administration's “tech surge” to repair the website.

The complete December figures though are still likely to be well behind the administration’s goal of registering 7 million consumers through March 2014. After March 31, those who are uninsured will be subject to fines.

The website was launched in October with numerous technical issues that prevented consumers from registering, leaving the administration well behind their target enrollment goals. The botched rollout of the insurance exchanges dropped Obama to his lowest approval ratings and weakened support for this signature domestic achievement.

President Obama and his surrogates though have touted fixes to the website and say most consumers can now register online easily. But critics say back-end issues with the website persist and that the real test for the health law will come on Jan. 1, when consumers will begin trying to use their Obamacare coverage.

Insurers caution that some who believe they have successfully enrolled may not have coverage in the new year. Many Americans are also expected to be dropped from their current plans because of new Obamacare regulations, breaking the president’s promise that consumers could keep their plans under the law.

The administration also delayed the deadline for consumers to receive insurance by Jan. 1 numerous times, and has said that those who tried to register by the deadline could be given extra time to complete their enrollment.

The original deadline was Dec. 15, but that was extended to Dec. 23. The administration then secretly extended the deadline again on Monday through Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, to give consumers additional time and said that those who began the process online by the deadline would receive additional time and help.

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