More than 6 million people have enrolled in the federal and state health exchanges, President Obama announced Thursday.
This means the administration has met its latest goal, as projected by the Congressional Budget Office, to ensure the insurance system is sustainable.
Obama made the announcement on a conference call with health care navigators and volunteers while he was traveling in Italy. He thanked them for their help.
The latest milestone comes after the troubled opening of the federal exchange Oct. 1. Software problems and other issues rendered the site virtually unusable for weeks, and it took a surge of technology support to have it fixed by Nov. 30. Since then, however, enrollments have risen dramatically, particularly as the Dec. 31 and March 31 deadlines approached.
But until the government releases demographics, numbers of those who have paid their premiums, and numbers of those newly insured, the number “enrolled” won’t tell a complete story, said Brendan Buck, press secretary for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.
“They won’t say how many have paid, so the number is likely significantly lower,” Buck said. “And every survey has shown most people who’ve signed up already had coverage, so they’re not actually newly insured.”
The government will have to wait for the insurers to release payment data, as well as information about the newly insured, to answer. However, some states, such as California, have reported payment rates as high as 85%.
Insurers also say it’s difficult to tell who previously did not have insurance.
Sam Nussbaum, chief medical officer at insurer WellPoint, said 80% of people signing up at the company are new customers.
“We don’t know yet if that means they were uninsured,” he said. “But we believe that a lot of them are absolutely new to the system.”
Source: USA Today | Kelly Kennedy