News

Obamacare enrollment tops 7M mark

Obamacare enrollment tops 7M mark

HEALTHCARE HURDLES:More than 6 million people had signed up for private health coverage through the new Obamacare insurance markets by last week, surpassing a target set after a disastrous October rollout called the enrollment process into question. With daily volumes continuing to surge, analysts believe the final tally could approach or even exceed an original goal of 7 million. Photo: Associated Press

By Jeff Mason and David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama’s national healthcare program was on track to reach its goal of covering 7 million Americans, administration officials said on Tuesday, a victory for the White House after a months-long, glitch-filled rollout.

Obama is scheduled to make a statement about the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, at 4:15 p.m. EDT in the White House.

Obama’s remarks could be the start of a victory lap for his administration, which suffered from the botched unveiling of the program’s primary website, HealthCare.gov, and wavering support from Americans years after the healthcare law passed over Republican objections.

Officials did not provide exact updated figures, but the uptick in enrollment was in line with what experts predicted and it represented what the White House has called a comeback story that could boost Democrats in the November congressional elections.

Monday’s deadline for initial enrollment in the program came after a surge in registrations despite the return of technical problems, including a longer-than-expected maintenance session, although nothing as serious as the issues that beset the website’s launch in October.

The site on Tuesday announced that open enrollment for Obamacare had closed, but people whose applications were thwarted by technical problems would be given a chance to finish their registration.

By last week, more than 6 million people had signed up for private health coverage through the new Obamacare insurance markets, surpassing a target set after the disastrous rollout called the enrollment process into question.

Despite the figures, some questions about those who had signed up lingered.

“We still have a lot to learn about what underlies those numbers in terms of who signed up and how many were newly insured people versus switching from other coverage,” said Karen Pollitz, a senior fellow at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

“We have more to see … about how many of them actually completed enrollment and how much coverage expansion was accomplished.”

The healthcare law, one of Obama’s key promises as a presidential candidate in 2008, was intended to expand access to healthcare coverage for millions of uninsured Americans, so having enrollment figures that reflect newly insured people is critical to the program’s success.

Obama administration officials said on Tuesday the late surge in enrollment put the program “on track” to reach 7 million registrants, which was its original 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,” Obama said in an interview aired on Monday on “The CBS Evening News.”

Joanne Peters, spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said that in addition to record traffic on the website, The Medicare & Medicaid phone center handled a record number of calls.

Democrats and Republicans are locked in an election-year battle with Republicans over the future of Obamacare. House Speaker John Boehner on Monday pledged once again to repeal the program.

(Additional reporting by Bill Trott, editing by G Crosse)

Recent Headlines

10 mins ago in Entertainment

Seth MacFarlane returning to Fox with new sci-fi series

Fresh
sethmacfarlane536713938826

The "Family Guy" star is producing a new series set 300 years in the future.

3 hours ago in Music

‘You can’t always get what you want,’ Stones tell Trump

rollingstonesREUTERS

The Rolling Stones told Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump on Wednesday to stop using the band's music for his campaign after artists such as Adele and R.E.M. made the same request.

3 hours ago in Sports

Furyk to make PGA Tour return next week in Charlotte

10-overlay-2

Jim Furyk makes his season debut as he joins an elite field boasting 31 of the top 50 players in the current FedExCup standings.

3 hours ago in Entertainment

Channing Tatum bringing ‘Magic Mike’ to Sin City

20-overlay-3

The actor, who starred and produced in both the 2012 film and its 2015 sequel "Magic Mike XXL" made the announcement in a Facebook Live video on Wednesday, revealing "Magic Mike Live" will be coming to the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in March, 2017.

3 hours ago in Entertainment

YouTube plans online TV service

youtubeREUTERS

YouTube is working on a paid subscription service called Unplugged that would offer customers a bundle of cable TV channels streamed over the Internet.