By Jonathan Easley - 03/17/14 04:44 PM EDT
ObamaCare enrollment spiked in March, and a total of 5 million people have signed up since the insurance marketplaces launched in October, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner wrote in a blog post Monday.
That’s good news for the Obama administration; the number of enrollments had fallen from 1.1 million in January to 942,000 in February.
The numbers come with less than two weeks left in open enrollment. It seems increasingly unlikely that the administration will hit the original Congressional Budget Office projections of enrolling 7 million people between October and March.
That projection was reduced to 6 million following the early troubles with HealthCare.gov, and officials have sought to temper expectations since the botched rollout essentially shaved two months off the six-month open enrollment period.
But the administration has long said it expects enrollment to spike near the March 31 deadline, and with Monday’s data, the goal of 6 million sign-ups appears to be within reach.
Still, the number of people who have actually purchased coverage is likely significantly lower. Analysts estimate that as many as 20 percent of enrollees haven’t paid their first month's premium, meaning that roughly 1 million of the 5 million do not have insurance coverage.
The administration has also said it doesn’t know yet how many enrollees already had an insurance plan and how many are obtaining coverage for the first time. Conservatives have cited studies that indicate many of those obtaining coverage under ObamaCare were previously insured and argue that this means the law is falling short of its goal to enroll as many of the uninsured as possible.