By Jonathan Easley - 03/27/14 02:54 PM EDT
ObamaCare enrollment figures are on a sharp upward trajectory in March, with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announcing Thursday that 6 million people have enrolled with four days to go before the March 31 deadline.
President Obama announced the milestone on a conference call from Italy with navigators and volunteers.
The 6 million enrollees hits the Congressional Budget Office forecast, which was reduced from 7 million because of early troubles with HealthCare.gov.
The administration has long said it expects enrollment to spike near the March 31 deadline. The CMS said Thursday that record numbers of people continue to visit HealthCare.gov or check in with call centers.
On Wednesday, more than 1.5 million people went to HealthCare.gov, and another 430,000 called one of the call centers, the administration said.
That’s good news for the Obama administration, as the number of enrollees initially lagged because the botched rollout essentially shaved two months off the first-ever open enrollment period.
Enrollment figures, while not the most critical metric for the success of the healthcare law, have become a political touchstone on the left and the right in characterizing how ObamaCare is being received by the public.
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 6 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 this means the law is falling short of its goal to enroll as many of the uninsured as possible.