By Sarah Ferris - 02/17/15 06:47 PM EST
This year’s ObamaCare enrollment officially beat expectations with at least 11.4 million Americans signing up in the second year, the White House announced late Tuesday.
The new estimates put the Obama administration ahead of its target of 9 million sign-ups for 2015 and far ahead of its totals from the marketplace’s first year — though well below initial predictions.
“The Affordable Care Act is working. It’s working a little bit better than we anticipated. Certainly, it’s working a lot better than any of the critics talked about,” President Obama said in a video released first on Twitter and Facebook.
“It gives you a sense of how hungry people were for affordable and accessible health insurance,” he added.
The video also included Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, who led this year’s enrollment effort. Burwell took the helm in June after a heavily criticized launch of HealthCare.gov in its first year that prevented millions from logging on to the healthcare website.
This year's approach has been vastly different, with just minor technical glitches and a less-flashy outreach strategy.
Neither Obama nor Burwell mentioned that the new figures put the administration ahead of its goal of 9 million. Federal health officials had announced the target last fall, lowering expectations from the 13 million total that had been predicted by the Congressional Budget Office last year.
The new figures are likely to fluctuate, however, as the government weeds out customers who signed up but did not pay their premiums. Last year, the administration was forced to take several hundred thousand people off its rolls who did not pay premiums. The final enrollment tally was just below 7 million.
More sign-ups are also likely because more than two dozen states have extended the deadline for new and returning customers who had difficulty purchasing coverage because of wait times or technical glitches.
Advocacy groups, as well as some lawmakers, are continuing to pressure the Obama administration to create a grace period for people who lack insurance but will only begin paying the penalties during this spring's tax season.
Washington state, which runs its own exchange, became the first state this week to keep its sign-up portal open until after the federal tax deadline in April.
This story was updated at 7:08 p.m.