O-Care exchanges hit new enrollment record

Roughly 9.5 million consumers have chosen health plans or reenrolled in their old coverage on ObamaCare's marketplaces since Nov. 15, an increase over last year's final count.

The new figure puts the Department of Health and Human Services's (HHS) 2015 sign-up target within striking distance. The Obama administration is hoping to achieve at least 9.1 million paid enrollments for this year.    

While HHS appears to have hit its enrollment goal at first glance, it is not clear how many people who have chosen plans will pay their first premium — the threshold for full enrollment.  

Anecdotally, insurers predict that 80 to 85 percent of people who sign up for plans will finalize their coverage by paying their first bill. 

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The announcement, which included plans picked on the state-based marketplaces, arrives as federal health officials engage in a final push to encourage consumers to visit HealthCare.gov before the Feb. 15 deadline.

“The deadline to sign up for coverage is just a few weeks away," HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said in a statement. "We still have a lot of work to do before February 15, but are encouraged by the strong interest we’ve seen so far.”

In total, more than 7.1 million people chose plans or re-enrolled in states where the federal government runs the ObamaCare marketplace. Another 2.4 million were in the 14 states that operate their own exchanges, including 1.2 million in California alone. 

Last year, roughly 8 million people chose plans on the marketplaces.

"We’re pleased that, nationwide, 9.5 million people are signed up for Marketplace coverage. The vast majority are able to lower their costs even further by getting tax credits, making a difference in the lives of so many families," Burwell said.

The department released a variety of figures about the population that has chosen plans.

Eighty-seven percent are set to receive financial assistance from the government to help with the cost of their coverage, roughly the same share as last year.

Another 35 percent were under 35 years old, a 7-point increase over 2014.