ObamaCare tally likely to exceed lowered target

ObamaCare signups are likely to surpass the administration’s goal of 9.1 million, beating the lowered target set by the administration at the start of the enrollment period.

About 10.5 million people are expected to purchase health insurance by the end of 2015, according to a report by consulting and research firm Avalere Health.

The report, which uses federal estimates from the Department of Health and Human Services to predict state sign-ups, says enrollment could be as high as 11.5 million or as low as 9.5 million.

“Growth in 2015 enrollment is helping to solidify the exchanges as a viable commercial market for health plans and consumers,” Dan Mendelson, the company’s CEO, wrote in a statement Tuesday.

Enrollment in ObamaCare’s second year was widely expected to be better than in 2013, when a mess of technical glitches prevented millions from logging on to HealthCare.gov. A total of 7.1 million people bought insurance under the program in the first year.

Even with an improved website in 2014, HHS officials last month said they were only expecting about 9.1 million to sign up. That was far less than the 13 million projected by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office in its analysis in April 2014.

Some health policy speculated that HHS intentionally set the bar lower to ensure that the number could be surpassed.

Tom Scully, the former head of the Centers Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS), said then that he was “surprised” by the lower goal, adding that he understood why the department was being cautious.”

“They had a rough first year. They didn’t want to build up higher expectations,” he said last month.

Avalere Health warns that “several critical issues,” such as the attention from state and federal leaders and from outreach and insurance groups, will determine whether ObamaCare 2.0 exceeds expectations.

It warned that this year’s outreach effort has been significantly quieter than last year’s — and makes little notice of the costly tax that people will face if they don’t have insurance by Jan. 1.

“There has been limited effort to educate the public about the individual mandate, which will penalize individuals who remain uninsured,” the report reads.