HHS: ObamaCare enrollment hits 7.5M

 

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Thursday told lawmakers that enrollments in ObamaCare's exchanges have reached 7.5 million.

This figure includes the 7.1 million people who signed up as of March 31 and an additional 400,000 who have taken advantage of a special enrollment period that will end April 15. The 400,000 may also include state-based enrollees who were not reported on March 31.

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Sebelius made the comment before the Senate Finance Committee, where she appeared to testify on President Obama's proposed HHS budget for 2015.

She also said about 12 million people have been determined eligible for Medicaid, but did not say how many people have signed up for the program over the last six months.

The administration's total enrollment figure under the healthcare law was expected to grow this month.

Federal health officials are permitting people who say they struggled to complete applications on HealthCare.gov to choose a plan by April 15.

This plan has drawn criticism from Republicans who say it is merely a bid to boost 2014 enrollment on the exchanges. HHS argues it is a service to consumers who may have confronted technical problems.

The administration has not yet published its mid-April enrollment report, which will include age and state breakdowns for sign-ups made before the end of March, if not later.

These details will be crucial for understanding how the exchanges will fare in 2015, when insurers expect to raise some premiums by double digits.

The more young, healthy sign-ups the marketplaces get, the less likely insurers will be to raise prices.

Studies have shown that sicker people flocked to the exchanges at the beginning, but insurance companies have reported that the proportion of young, healthy people signing up increased toward the end of March.

Insurers estimate that 80 to 90 percent of enrollees have paid their first premium, a figure the administration has cited but not officially confirmed.

The 7.5 million enrollments refer to people who chose plans on the exchanges, not those who have activated their coverage by paying the first bill. Republicans take issue with the number for this reason.

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