California falls short of ObamaCare sign-up goal

California has enrolled 1.4 million people through its ObamaCare insurance marketplace, the state announced Tuesday, falling short of its goal of 1.7 million.

The announcement follows the passing of Sunday’s deadline to sign up for ObamaCare. However, the story is not completely finished, as California, like the federally run exchanges in roughly three dozen other states, has extended the deadline until next Sunday for people who have started an application but did not finish it.

{mosads}The 1.4 million people includes 474,000 who are new enrollments and did not have insurance through the exchange last year. The goal had been 500,000 new enrollments, and officials say they expect to beat that number by Sunday.

Peter Lee, the executive director of the state’s marketplace, praised the sign-up number despite falling short of the goal, saying 1.4 million is “a huge number, a number we’re proud of.”

“What we saw over the last week was incredible momentum that peaked with over 36,000 people enrolling on Sunday alone,” Lee said. 

He explained that last year’s projections for how many people would maintain coverage were too high, which he attributed to people dropping out of the exchange to get insurance at a new job or through Medicaid. 

“It isn’t so much losing people as getting a better sense of the inflow and outflow on a month-to-month basis,” Lee said. 

The total enrollment number is about the same as it was in April of last year, after last year’s enrollment period, but Lee said fewer people are likely to drop coverage now, as they have a history of paying. 

National sign-ups, around 10 million, are higher than the Obama administration’s goal of 9.1 million, though meeting that goal is dependent on people paying their premiums. The administration is set to provide updated numbers from Sunday’s deadline at a press conference on Wednesday.

While the deadline has been extended until Sunday, another chance to sign up could be in the works as well. The federally run marketplaces, as well as California, are considering allowing another sign-up period around tax-filing season, aimed at people who realize then that they must pay a penalty for not having insurance.

Lee said California would decide by early next week. He said the state already had “thousands of cases of consumers who literally walked across the street from a a tax advisor” to sign up after learning about the penalty.

“The main downside that I can imagine is that consumers might think in the future that these deadlines don’t matter,” he said.  


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