KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

HHS: Nearly A Million Consumers Have Completed The Health Insurance Sign Up Process; 106,185 Have Selected Plans

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced enrollment numbers today for the federal and state online health insurance marketplaces that opened Oct. 1. Medicaid enrollment data were also released.

Read the HHS enrollment report here.

The Washington Post: Administration: 106,000 Enrolled In Health Insurance In First Month Of
The Obama administration reported Wednesday that slightly more than 106,000 people were able to enroll in new health-insurance plans during the first month of the troubled Internet marketplace under the new health-care law. ... The numbers represent a fraction of the half-million health-plan enrollees that the Obama administration had initially projected, before the Web site’s rocky rollout thwarted many shoppers’ attempts to sign up for insurance. Budget forecasters previously projected that 7 million people would enroll in coverage during the open enrollment period for the insurance exchanges, which runs until March 31 (Branigin and Somashekhar, 11/13).

The New York Times: Health Law Enrollment Figures Far Lower Than Initial Estimates
The White House has spent weeks trying to lower expectations about the enrollment figures, which have set off a pitched political battle among supporters and critics of the health overhaul, each seeking political advantage in the numbers. One point of contention is around the way the Obama administration defines who, precisely, is enrolled. The administration counts new enrollees as those who have "selected a marketplace plan" (Stolberg, 11/13).

Politico: October Obamacare Enrollment Low
One quarter of those people came through the flawed site, which is used by 36 states. The rest enrolled in the 14 states and Washington D.C., that are running their own enrollment system, most of which are generally operating much more efficiently than the federal site. The figures, which fall well short of the administration’s early goals, include people who have selected a health plan, whether or not they have actually paid for it. The White House has been tamping down expectations for weeks, warning that they have always expected the first month of enrollment to be low, even before the problems with the website became clear (Cheney and Millman, 11/13).

USA Today: Only 26,794 People Bought Insurance Via
Despite the low numbers, Sebelius touted the overall level of interest in buying health insurance. "We expect enrollment will grow substantially throughout the next five months, mirroring the pattern that Massachusetts experienced," she said in a release before the official announcement of the enrollment figures. The states with their own exchanges outperformed those in the federal exchange: 3,736 signed up in Colorado; 4,418 in Connecticut; 5,586 in Kentucky; 16,404 in New York; and 7,091 in Washington (Kennedy, 11/13).

The Wall Street Journal: Obama Administration Gives First Month Health-Site Tallies
"There is no doubt the level of interest is strong. We expect enrollment will grow substantially throughout the next five months," said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in a statement on the release. "They're also numbers that will grow as the website,, continues to make steady improvements." ... The formal release of these numbers is likely to fuel further attacks by Republican critics who have sought to repeal the 2010 health law. The woes of the website, which prevented many people from creating accounts and enrolling in a health plan, have also put pressure on Democrats. President Barack Obama is looking for ways to bolster Democratic lawmakers up for re-election next year. The House is set to vote Friday on legislation that would allow insurers to continue selling current insurance policies that don't meet the standards of the new law. Many people among the 5% of Americans who buy coverage on the individual market have received cancellation notices in recent weeks (Radnofsky, 11/13).

Los Angeles Times: Obamacare: 106,000 Signed Up For Health Coverage So Far, Officials Say
Enrollment has been particularly weak in the 36 states whose new insurance marketplaces are being run by the federal government. ... Despite the relatively low enrollment numbers, administration officials stressed Wednesday that consumer interest in health insurance appears strong. Nationwide, nearly 1.1 million people have been deemed eligible to get insurance through one of the new marketplaces, according to applications that have been submitted by consumers, the Department of Health and Human Services reported. An additional 396,000 people have been deemed eligible for the government’s Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program, officials reported (Levey, 11/13).

Huffington Post: Obamacare Enrollment Numbers Fall Far Short Of Target
Technical problems besieging, the federal online portal for insurance in more than 30 states, and the websites for several state-run marketplaces have hampered sign-up and threaten to derail President Barack Obama's signature domestic policy achievement. The Obama administration is far from meeting the Congressional Budget Office's projection of enrolling 7 million people into private insurance and 9 million people into Medicaid by March 31. The disappointing results of the first phase of Affordable Care Act enrollment underscore the fragility of the new marketplaces and the urgent need for the Obama administration to get reliably functioning by the end of this month. The coverage of millions of people whose plans are being eliminated hangs in the balance, as does the prospect of fulfilling the promise of reducing the ranks of the 48 million Americans who have no health insurance (Young, 11/13).

CBS News: HHS: At least 106,185 Enrolled In Obamacare So Far
Some state-run Obamacare websites have, so far, run more smoothly than, which may be reflected in the enrollment numbers: Of the 106,185 people who signed up in the first month, three quarters of them signed up through state-based programs. Only 26,794 signed up on the federal website. The administration has promised to have running smoothly for the vast majority of users by the end of the month. Yet as the technical problems persist, members of Congress are growing increasingly concerned about people who are being dropped from their current insurance plans and may have problems enrolling in new ones (Condon, 11/13).

Fox News: HHS Reports 106,000 Have Picked Health Plans Through ObamaCare Exchanges
The administration had originally hoped to sign up a half-million people in the first month of open enrollment. Now more than six weeks into the troubled launch of and other state-based exchanges, HHS announced Wednesday that 106,185 people had selected a plan as of Nov. 2. The announcement had been highly anticipated, as lawmakers have been pressing the administration for weeks on official figures. But even the statistic revealed on Wednesday might be inflated. The administration said the figure counts all those who have selected a health care plan from state and federal exchanges, even if they haven't yet paid a premium on those plans (11/13).

NBC News: 26,000 Signed Up Through Federal Obamacare Website In First Month, Administration Says
The White House had hoped half a million people would have signed up in the first month the site was active. The Congressional Budget Office had projected that 7 million people would sign up for private health insurance on the exchange and that another 9 million would get Medicaid coverage. The new numbers indicate that the 500,000 projection may not be completely off. "Additionally, 396,261 Americans have been assessed or determined eligible for Medicaid or CHIP (the Children’s Health Insurance Program)," HHS said in a statement (Fox, 11/13).

ABC News: Only 106,185 Enroll In Health Insurance Nationwide Using Marketplaces
The total represents 1.5 percent of the estimated number of enrollees that should sign up for health insurance using the websites by the March 31 deadline, according to the Department of Health and Human Services report (Phillip, 11/13).

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