ObamaCare sign-ups climb to 8.5 million

ObamaCare sign-ups climb to 8.5 million
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ObamaCare sign-ups have climbed to just over 8.5 million people, according to new data released by the administration on Wednesday. 

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The number ticked up from the roughly 8.3 million who had signed up when the administration last released an update last week. 

While the weekly numbers climb, the administration on Wednesday emphasized that 60 percent of existing ObamaCare customers who are re-enrolling for the new year actively selected new heath insurance plans rather than being automatically enrolled.

The administration encourages people to actively select a plan so that they can shop for the best or deal, which is one way to counteract rising premiums. 

“As 2015 comes to an end, I am encouraged to see Marketplace consumers showing how engaged they are with their health coverage,” Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said in a statement. "Millions of consumers that had 2015 coverage — an impressive 60 percent — came back to HealthCare.gov to update their information, explore the options available for 2016 and select the plan that best fits their needs.”

The deadline to sign up for coverage is Jan. 31, after which the relative success of this year’s enrollment period will become clearer. 

But officials have expressed optimism from the sign-up numbers through Dec. 15, the preliminary deadline to sign up for coverage that starts on Jan. 1. 

Nearly 6 million people signed up by that initial deadline, compared to 3.4 million at the same point last year. And 2.4 million were new customers, compared to 1.8 million last year. There was also a higher percentage of young enrollees, a positive sign for getting the right mix of healthy and sick people.