Obamacare enrollment hits 4 million, push underway to hit revised goal
February 25th, 2014
08:48 PM ET
7 months ago

Obamacare enrollment hits 4 million, push underway to hit revised goal

Updated 8:48 p.m. ET, 2/25/2014

(CNN) – Some 700,000 people have enrolled in Obamacare so far in February, raising total enrollment to roughly 4 million with a little more than a month to go before the sign-up deadline expires to get insurance this year.

The new figures for state and federal exchanges released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Tuesday illustrate participation in the sweeping initiative continues to grow steadily, a point raised by President Barack Obama at a White House event later in the day.

But the current pace indicates his administration will need a record month in March to reach a 6-million enrollment target, one that falls short of the original goal.

Obama's forecasts an all-out effort by his staff in coming weeks.

"We've only got a few weeks left," he told an Organizing for Action dinner in Washington Tuesday night, repeating the new total figure for emphasis.

"March 31, that's the last call. If folks aren't signed up by March 31, they can't sign up again until the next open-enrollment period with the 2015 rates," he said. "So if they want health insurance now, they need to sign up now, and we're going to make a big push these last few weeks."

The Obama administration initially hoped to sign up 7 million people by the end of March. But the non-partisian Congressional Budget Office estimate now stands at 6 million, and Vice President Joe Biden suggested earlier this month that it could trend lower.

"We may not get to seven, we may get to five or six, and that's a hell of a start," Biden said in Minneapolis.

The new numbers for February and overall also come as the administration appears to be scaling back expectations for enrollment of young adults.

For months, administration officials embraced CBO estimates anticipating that 18- to 34-year-olds would comprise roughly 40% of the total. The current number is about 27%.

The overall metric is critical for making the program work economically. The larger the pool of healthy, younger people paying premiums, the lower the cost of providing coverage for older, sicker participants.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the 40% figure applied to the number of "uninsured who are young people."

"That's a little different from what you would need for the exchanges to have the demographic mix that's necessary for them to function effectively," he said.

Administration officials argued in January that Obamacare does not need to reach enrollment of 2.7 million young adults by the end of March to achieve a "sustainable market."

Asked about Carney's comments, a White House official cited a different metric from Massachusetts as a potential milestone.

"If you look at (Massachusetts), they never got above 34 percent in any given month as to the share of enrollees who were young adults and that was considered a successful risk pool," the official said.

A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, a chief critic of Obamacare, accused the White House of trying to move the goal posts.

"Obamacare enrollment goals are melting away as quickly as the law's deadlines. Youth enrollment has been a bust so far, and trying to whitewash stated benchmarks won't change that," Brendan Buck said.

White House officials note younger enrollment has accelerated in recent weeks, arguing that will improve the program's viability over time. The administration has tried to lower expectations for this key metric for several weeks.

Administration officials and advocacy groups have increased their enrollment drives, particularly looking to attract young adults and minorities.

Obama praised enrollment so far following the rocky rollout of the program in October when the federal government's HealthCare.gov website experienced a number of technical problems that held down enrollment.

"Four million people have already signed up because of you," Obama said at Tuesday night's event.

To explain why more people have yet to take advantage of newfound insurance access provided by the Affordable Care Act, Obama pointed to a well-funded opposition "that has spent hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions of dollars spreading misinformation" about Obamacare.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said the latest numbers demonstrated "strong demand" for health insurance nationwide.

The administration will release a full enrollment report in mid-March, updating its February report.


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soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. emskadittle

    lol, the more people that sign up, the more people will like it. Republicans are going to have a hard time campaigning against it.

    February 25, 2014 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  2. Harold Read

    Just keep on lowering the number of people that need to enroll and moving back the deadline and Obamacare will be a huge success!!!

    Don't they need 7 million to enroll for Obamacare to be sustainable. Guess we'll be taxed out of existence in order to bail out Obamacare.

    February 25, 2014 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  3. Doesn't Matter What My Name Is, Just That I Am Thinking

    Who wants to be Obama will push back the deadline again.

    February 25, 2014 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  4. Celebrity Dictator

    Who really believes the 4 million figure? Just this week, the Washington Post, perhaps the most liberal rag out there, gave Obama 4 pinocchios for exaggerating the enrollment numbers.

    February 25, 2014 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  5. bill

    3,000,000 lost their insurance–do what? YOU CAN KEEP YOUR INSURANCE. Again these numbers are cooked-"they can't tell us how many have paid" or "how many young healthy people". what is 4 million minus 3 million???? it's in the mail

    February 25, 2014 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  6. J.V.Hodgson

    Both sides of this debate need to stop with the disaster stories or favorable stories.
    They need to look at the reality of the policy and its effects. If republican states had accepted the Medicaid funding support and state exchanges this law would be a rip roaring success for we the people and would lead to lower health care costs for a nation that sends at least 2.5 times per capita on health care without the 100 % coverage that other systems offer in the major western economies. But typical we Americans if it's bigger and better and it costs a lot then we lead the world.... never mind the efficacy and Millions uninsured!!
    Regards,
    Hodgson.

    February 25, 2014 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  7. Truthandjustice

    To explain why more people have yet to take advantage of newfound insurance access provided by the Affordable Care Act, Obama pointed to a well-funded opposition "that has spent hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions of dollars spreading misinformation" about Obamacare.

    When will Obama ever take responsibility for ANYTHING? Still blaming the republicans, but not a word about his lies. You are a dishonest person, Obama, and not man enough to be responsible for your errors.

    February 25, 2014 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  8. Lizzie

    Why would 18 to 26 year olds, sign up with ACA when they can let their parents pick up the bill.

    February 26, 2014 06:07 am at 6:07 am |
  9. croaton999

    When are the American people going to wake up from this nightmare called Obamacare?

    February 26, 2014 06:29 am at 6:29 am |
  10. Minnie Mouse

    How many out of the 4 million people are actually paying for the health insurance? Who's going to be helping the millions of people left behind without any health insurance that can't afford to pay for it, because they don't qualify for any assistance? The health insurance should be free to everyone, no just certain lower income levels. This would for everyone to get health care coverage, and no leave people behind.

    February 26, 2014 06:54 am at 6:54 am |
  11. TomInRochNY

    A weak start is better than no start. What's your plan to get people health care and not drive them into bankruptcy republicans? Our health isn't something to make money off of.

    February 26, 2014 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
  12. Steve Kaplan

    There are so many families all over the country that are unable to put food on the table every night. It's a disgrace and the republicans are most certainly to blame!

    February 26, 2014 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
  13. Gurgyl

    --I have some friends enrolled, Said it it cheap at cost wise with low deductions too. They are so, so happy.

    February 26, 2014 07:37 am at 7:37 am |
  14. ChrisM

    Go ahead Repubs, try and take health insurance away from Americans. Especially Americans with Pre existing conditions

    February 26, 2014 07:45 am at 7:45 am |