Report: Fewer than 50K have signed up at HealthCare.gov

Fewer than 50,000 people have successfully purchased private healthcare coverage using the struggling ObamaCare enrollment site, according to a report.

The figure represents about one-tenth of an initial enrollment target from the Obama administration that has been referred to by Republican lawmakers.

The report by the Wall Street Journal, citing two people familiar with the matter, comes as federal health officials prepare to release official sign-up figures from healthcare.gov for the first time later this week.

The administration has sought to lower expectations about the number, noting problems with HealthCare.gov and consumers' tendency to purchase health coverage close to deadlines.

Health insurance companies serving the federal marketplaces have received data for between 40,000 and 50,000 enrollees, sources told the Journal.

The administration had hoped to sign up 500,000 people in the month of October, according to documents cited by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (Mich.), a Republican.

Monday's release was part of a flurry of estimates shedding light on aspects of ObamaCare enrollment.

Consulting firm Avalere Health reported that about 50,000 people had signed up for either private plans or Medicaid on 12 state-run marketplaces.

The administration and healthcare experts caution that early lags in enrollment can be rectified by big waves later on.

"Enrollment in new programs begins slowly and often takes several months to build momentum," said Avalere CEO Dan Mendelson in a statement.

"While initial enrollment has been lagging, with aggressive marketing, there is still time for awareness of the program to grow and participation to begin."

The Health and Human Services (HHS) Department said it could not confirm the Journal's numbers.

"We have always anticipated that initial enrollment numbers would be low and increase over time," said HHS spokeswoman Joanne Peters in a statement, citing Massachusetts' experience with its healthcare reform law.

"As we have said, the problems with the website will cause the numbers to be lower than initially anticipated."