The Obama administration released enrollment figures for the first month of health insurance exchanges, which have been plagued by technical problems since their Oct. 1 launch.
A total of 106,185 individuals selected plans through Nov. 2, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. That number is far lower than the 500,000 the White House reportedly projected would enroll during the first month of the exchanges, a core element of the Affordable Care Act.
Of those who selected plans, only 26,795 did so through the federal exchange, which is the option for people in the 36 states that chose not to run their own exchange. The federal exchange is available through www.Healthcare.gov, which has been difficult or impossible for many people to use because of technical problems.
The remaining 79,391 chose a plan through the state-based exchanges, which have been working better than the federal exchange despite problems of their own.
According to projections from the Congressional Budget Office, 7 million people will become insured through the exchanges by March 31, 2014, the end of open enrollment. If the actual total is well short of that figure, premiums in the individual insurance market could rise in future years and the law could become unsustainable.
An additional 396,261 have been determined or assessed eligible for the Children’s Health Insurance Program or Medicaid, for which eligibility is expanding under the ACA. That makes a total of 502,466 people who are positioned to have health insurance in 2014.
HHS noted that an additional 846,184 people have applied and received an eligibility determination but have not selected a plan.
An estimated 26,876,527 people have visited the federal and state exchanges, according to HHS, while there have been an estimated 3,158,436 calls to the state- and federal-exchange call centers.
We expect enrollment will grow substantially throughout the next five months, mirroring the pattern that Massachusetts experienced after implementing healthcare reform, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a news release. We also expect that the numbers will grow as the website, Healthcare.gov, continues to make steady improvements.
The Obama administration has said the site will be fully operational for a vast majority of users by the end of November.
Enrollment figures report (PDF): http://aspe.hhs.gov/health/reports/2013/MarketPlaceEnrollment/rpt_enrollment.pdf