More Obamacare enrollees in two days than all of October: sources

WASHINGTON Wed Dec 4, 2013 2:52pm EST

A busy screen is shown on the laptop of a Certified Application Counselor as he attempted to enroll an interested person for Affordable Care Act insurance, known as Obamacare, at the Borinquen Medical Center in Miami, Florida October 2, 2013. REUTERS/Joe Skipper

A busy screen is shown on the laptop of a Certified Application Counselor as he attempted to enroll an interested person for Affordable Care Act insurance, known as Obamacare, at the Borinquen Medical Center in Miami, Florida October 2, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Joe Skipper

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - More people signed up on the government's new health insurance website on the first two days of December than in the entire first month of the launch of President Barack Obama's healthcare reform, sources familiar with the numbers said on Wednesday.

The sources said about 29,000 people enrolled on Sunday and Monday, surpassing nearly 27,000 for all of October when the opening of the HealthCare.gov website was beset by glitches that led to a public apology by the president and a retooling of the portal.

Obama's administration has been criticized by Republican opponents for not regularly disclosing figures over political concerns.

The improved enrollment figures provide the first evidence that a five-week emergency effort by the administration to fix HealthCare.gov was allowing more people to sign up for insurance in 36 states served by the website. Fourteen states and Washington, D.C. run their own online insurance marketplaces.

The agency in charge of the healthcare policy rollout, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said on Wednesday that it would announce official numbers later in December.

The upward swing is a tentative good sign for Obama, whose job approval ratings plummeted as the website made a disastrous debut on October 1 and millions received policy cancellation notices despite Obama's repeated pledge they could keep their current plans under the Affordable Care Act.

Preliminary government data has also indicated that about 100,000 people chose a health plan through HealthCare.gov during November. Tens of thousands more Americans have signed up through state exchanges.

While enrollment is improving, the administration is still far off track of the 7 million people whom the Congressional Budget Office has said were expected to sign up for private insurance through March 31. Also, insurers say they are struggling to cope with error-filled enrollment forms, a problem that may worsen as more people rush to meet the December 23 deadline to sign up for coverage that starts January 1.

Republicans, who have long opposed the healthcare overhaul commonly called Obamacare as an example of unwarranted government expansion that would increase costs, said the positive news in the numbers should not overshadow the law's shortcomings.

"While the administration is celebrating this small number, their announcement will be cold comfort for the millions who've lost the coverage they liked and the millions more facing higher premiums," said an aide to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky. "And that's all assuming that the insurers are actually receiving the information needed to complete the process - which we still don't know to be true."

Uncertain corporate costs of the healthcare law and other regulations continue to stymie employment and capital spending, according to a survey released by the Business Roundtable, a confederation of top U.S. companies.

Obama, in an economic speech on Wednesday, vowed to keep working on improving the program, his signature domestic policy achievement.

"I've acknowledged more than once that we didn't roll out this plan the way we should have," he said. But he added, "This law is going to work, and for the sake of our economic security, it needs to work."

He said Republicans still wanting to repeal should explain what their alternative to Obamacare is. "You owe it to the American people to say what you are for, not just what you're against," he said.

(Reporting by Mark Felsenthal, Steve Holland and Roberta Rampton; Editing by Karey Van Hall and Grant McCool)

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Comments (3)
Jim88 wrote:
How many of these had the policy canceled in the first place because it didn’t meet Obamacare “standards”?

Dec 04, 2013 12:36pm EST  --  Report as abuse
hawkeye19 wrote:
And now all of their identities will be stolen. Thanks, Barack.

Dec 04, 2013 1:19pm EST  --  Report as abuse
GregSolomon wrote:
With roughly five million surgeries started each week, the crises will be just beginning in January.

Calculate the average cost of a surgical procedure times the number of people that believe they have insurance – yet do not or times the number of people who will have lost their insurance…..The numbers suggest that there may be an even bigger crisis on the horizon.

Simple math suggest that by next June tens of thousands of people will be receiving hospital invoices costing tens of thousands of dollars. Secondly, the clock keeps ticking on millions of people currently on employer based health insurance policies that are likely to be receiving notices that their plans are being cancelled or at the very least be repriced….this is not exactly going be have the same impression of receiving a postcard from the Publishing House Sweepstakes company.

Meanwhile , the President’s PR campaign will attempt diminish the impact of a catastrophic healthcare plan rollout so that his poll numbers and congress seats do not drop. The focus being on trying to rebrand a failing project versus working on a real fix, could possibly cause more harm than good to a significant number of people in our society.

Now, I am not hoping for any component of the current healthcare law to fail. However, if one looks at the numbers and the leadership past and present approach to the initiative, further failures could possibly result in the situation causing in a national crisis.

That being said, perhaps it is time for the country’s leaders, including those in the press and media, to put aside politics and their egos to work together – the same way the we would during wartime.

Before the hospitals start sending the bills, I suggest that a bipartisan provision to the ACA be implemented that would Insure that everyone is insured for 2014. Then scrap Obamacare and rebuild America’s Care – a healthcare plan that can be enacted by 2015.

In order for this to happen, we have to have leaders that are more concerned about ideals than idealism.

Dec 06, 2013 11:48pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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