By Sarah Ferris - 12/30/14 11:54 AM EST
Nearly 90 percent of people who bought health insurance in the second year of ObamaCare qualify for government help to pay their premiums, federal health officials announced Tuesday.
The new figure, which was released Tuesday by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), signals success for the government’s extensive push to promote financial assistance for millions who remained uninsured after ObamaCare’s first year.
In the government's most comprehensive report yet on federal and state exchanges, HHS also announced that at least at least 4 million people signed up for healthcare for the first time since open enrollment began Nov. 15.
At least 6.5 million people bought healthcare in state and federal marketplaces in the first month of the new signup period, which HHS called an “encouraging start.”
Out of that tally, 600,000 signups came from the 12 states running their own exchanges.
The 6.5 million enrollment figure, which is nearly the same as the federal enrollment tally reported last week, is likely far less than the actual tally.
The report only includes state signups through Dec. 13 and federal sign-ups through Dec. 15. Two of the biggest states, California and New York, only reported new sign-ups, and seven states did not report customers who were auto-enrolled in plans.
Several states, such as Minnesota, also extended deadlines for coverage in the new year, which HHS says prevented officials from calculating total enrollment.
An analysis of state data by The Hill last week found that 1.1 million people had signed up in 11 states. A widely touted ObamaCare blog, run by statistician Charles Gaba, puts the national total at about 7.2 million.
HHS Secretary Sylvia BurwellSylvia Mathews BurwellOvernight Healthcare: McConnell unveils new Zika package | Manchin defends daughter on EpiPens | Bill includes M for opioid crisis Insurance executives ask for changes to ObamaCare Obama meets with insurance CEOs on health law MORE touted the higher percentage of customers who qualify for financial assistance, which she said would make “a difference in the bottom lines of so many families.” The department compares this year’s figure to the same period last year, when 80 percent of people were deemed eligible for subsidies.
The figures are tough to compare, however, because the government’s dysfunctional HealthCare.gov portal prevented so many customers from buying coverage last fall. Most sign-ups took place in the spring.
In a different report, which includes federal data through Dec. 26, HHS announced that 6.5 million people have bought coverage through the marketplace and 8.1 million people have submitted applications.
“Even with the holiday, consumers still found the time to shop, start applications and learn about their options,” Burwell wrote in a statement.
The figures include millions of people who were auto-enrolled in their same plans, HHS said.
About 60 percent of customers using the federal exchange were auto-enrolled, which means a majority of customers disregarded advice from HHS to shop around for cheaper plans.
This year’s open enrollment period runs through Feb. 15.