ObamaCare enrollment, then and now

ObamaCare enrollment, then and now
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There's no doubt about it: ObamaCare enrollment is going much more smoothly this year.

Since Nov. 15, HealthCare.gov has made few headlines except when the Obama administration touts its number of sign-ups so far.

It's a far cry from last fall, when the enrollment portal melted down and cast doubt on the future of the new system.

Here's a look at ObamaCare enrollment, then and now.

Then: Obama blames traffic for glitches on Oct. 1

Now: Obama touts 'improved' HealthCare.gov

The Obama administration was focused on ending the government shutdown when HealthCare.gov debuted on Oct. 1, 2013.

The political brinksmanship that consumed Washington's attention drew focus from the website's massive flaws for several weeks.

Slowly, intelligence from insurance companies, computer scientists and consumers began to shed light on the extent of the site's problems.

Analyses pointed to deep structural issues that could take millions of lines of rewritten code to fix.

President Obama acknowledged on Oct. 1 that the system would face glitches, but he initially blamed the problems on unexpectedly high traffic.

This year, after months of repairs, HealthCare.gov relaunched and passed its first major deadline with only very minor glitches on the front end.

While insurers still complain that the back end needs work, Obama was able to tout the site's functioning on its first day back online.

"We've spent the last year improving and upgrading HealthCare.gov, to make it faster and easier to use," he said in a weekly address.

Then: Six people signed up on Oct. 1

Now: 100K new applications on Nov. 15

Over the month of October 2013, it became apparent that HealthCare.gov was thwarting most users as they sought to apply for coverage.

On Oct. 31, House Republicans released an internal administration memo that revealed just how bad the picture was.

Only six people had successfully selected plans during the system's first day online, according to the notes from the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight.

This year, more than 100,000 people submitted applications for health plans on Nov. 15, according to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Then: Sebelius: 'I don't know' number of ObamaCare enrollees

Now: HHS: Nearly 500K enrolled in the first week

Former HHS Secretary Kathleen SebeliusKathleen SebeliusJerry Moran: 'I wouldn't be surprised' if Pompeo ran for Senate in Kansas Mark Halperin inks book deal 2020 Democrats fight to claim Obama's mantle on health care MORE became the butt of jokes on Oct. 7, 2013 when she told comedian Jon Stewart that she didn't know how many people had signed up for ObamaCare.

The department was under heavy pressure to reveal more statistics about the site, and to critics, Sebelius's remark signaled that the calls were falling on deaf ears.

HHS eventually became more forthcoming with its data, but the initial silence contributed to longstanding tensions between the department and the press.

Enrollment figures have are much more public this year, with HHS releasing weekly and monthly reports.

Burwell is taking public pains to improve the department's "culture of transparency," especially after Republicans revealed that HHS miscounted 400,000 health plans last spring.

Then: Poll: More hold unfavorable view of ObamaCare

Now: Poll: Half dislike ObamaCare

Not everything about ObamaCare's rollout has improved this year.

Unfortunately for the administration, the law still remains largely unpopular with the public.

A Kaiser Family Foundation poll released Nov. 1, 2013 found that 44 percent held an unfavorable view of the law while 38 held a favorable view.

In December 2014, the picture had not shifted much: nearly 50 percent dislike the law while 41 percent support it.

A separate Gallup poll from November found that only 37 percent support the Affordable Care Act, a new low for the survey.