Obamacare Enrollment Surges Past 2 Million

More than 2 million people have enrolled in a private health insurance plan under the Affordable Care Act through December, the Department of Health and Human Services said Tuesday.

That’s far short of the 3.3 million the Obama administration had hoped would sign up by the end of 2013, but it represents a big pickup from initial enrollment numbers stuck in the gutter because of a faulty federal website rollout. The approximate 2.1 million figure comes from both state and federal exchanges.

Coverage starts kicking in on Wednesday for people who signed up by a Dec. 24 deadline and have paid their first premium. But Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius could not say how many of the 2.1 million have paid that premium to ensure coverage begins on Wednesday.

“Tomorrow is New Year’s Day and is a new day in health care for millions of Americans,” Sebelius said in a conference call with reporters on Tuesday.

Almost 1 million of the enrollees in private exchanges came in December. Overall, Marilyn Tavenner, the administrator of the Centres for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said that December enrollment was more than six times that of October and November combined. Only 106,000 signed up in October, the first month people could sign up.

“For many of the newly insured,” Sebelius said, “it will be the first time that they can enjoy the security that comes with health coverage.”

The administration has hoped that 7 million people would enroll in a plan by March 31, the deadline to enroll in health plans established by the Affordable Care Act.

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