By Elise Viebeck - 04/19/14 01:56 PM EDT
Enrollment in ObamaCare's new health insurance exchanges is likely to grow past eight million, as some states are still letting people sign up for insurance beyond this year's official enrollment deadline.
At least eight states and the District of Columbia are still allowing people to register for health plans, according to news reports and an April 14 analysis by consulting firm Avalere Health.
Enrollments can also take place for other reasons throughout the year. Marriage, job loss and interstate relocation are all factors that let people to sign up for new health insurance regardless of normal deadlines.
HealthCare.gov's special enrollment period ended on April 15. In several states, however, the general public can still sign up for plans relatively freely if they attest that they had trouble signing up over the last six months.
These states include Nevada, where consumers have until May 30 to complete their applications. In the District of Columbia and Oregon, the deadline is April 30.
Some states are determining special enrollment eligibility on a case-by-case basis. A handful, like Connecticut and Rhode Island, have not announced deadlines for people who faced technical errors.
This lack of clarity has worried insurers, who argue that open-ended enrollment will raise the number of sick people who pick plans.
ObamaCare's critics have also pushed back against the vague deadlines, calling them an underhanded way to boost the administration's overall enrollment numbers in the exchanges' first year of operation.
While enrollment will likely rise, some experts believe that total enrollment under the healthcare law is not likely to increase significantly beyond 8 million people.
The real number of policyholders on an exchange will vary throughout the year, as people drop in and out based on life changes and decisions to pay or not pay premiums.
Republicans indicated they would not abandon criticism over the administration's tally on Friday, with Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) calling the eight million figure "all smoke and mirrors" in a radio interview.