Around 5.5 mln people have signed up for 2023 Obamacare plans

A boy waits in line at a health insurance enrollment event in Cudahy, California March 27, 2014. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Dec 7 (Reuters) - Nearly 5.5 million Americans so far have signed up for health insurance for next year through the Affordable Care Act's marketplace, an 18% increase over the same period last year, according to data released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday.

People who want to choose a healthcare plan for 2023 under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, can enroll between Nov. 1 and Jan. 15. However, if they want to be covered as of Jan. 1 they generally need to choose a plan by Dec. 15.

Around 1.2 million of the people who have signed up for the plans are new consumers, HHS said.

The data is through Dec. 3 for the 33 states using the HealthCare.gov website for their enrollment and through Nov. 26 for the other states and the District of Columbia, which have state-based marketplaces.

In late November HHS said that nearly 3.4 million people had signed up for health plans. Last year, a total of around 14.5 million people signed up for insurance during the open enrollment period, the highest-ever number since the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010.

Companies that provide these plans include UnitedHealth Group Inc (UNH.N), CVS Health (CVS.N), Centene Corp (CNC.N), and Elevance (ELV.N).

Reporting by Michael Erman; Editing by Andrea Ricci

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