President Barack Obama took another victory lap on the Affordable Care Act Thursday, announcing more than 8 million people had signed up for private health insurance through the law.
The 8 million figure significantly surpassed expectations from original predictions — the Congressional Budget Office predicted last year that 7 million would enroll by the end of the first open enrollment period. After a flawed and disastrous rollout, the CBO revised that number down to 6 million. The final number ended up at more than 8 million because of an incredible surge over the last month, and there’s one stat that shows just how dramatic that final wave of enrollment was:
On the last day alone, about 217,000 people signed up — more than twice as many as signed up during the entire month of October.
That momentum carried into April, when people were allowed to continue signing up for insurance plans if they had started the process before the original March 31 deadline.
The Obama administration didn’t release a full breakdown of the final month-by-month totals, but one success story comes from California, which can be viewed as a bellwether nationally. According to Covered California, about 205,000 people were able to finish their applications and sign up from the April 1-15 period — including a record of more than 50,000 on April 15. The 205,000 number represents about 15% of California’s total sign-ups.
Here’s a look at the month-by-month progression in California:
“This law is working,” Obama said at the press conference. “This law won’t solve all the problems in our health care system. We know we’ve got more work to do, but we now know for a fact that repealing the Affordable Care Act would increase the deficit, raise premiums for millions of Americans, and take insurance away from millions more.”
How Obamacare’s recent success stories will affect the politics of the law is not yet clear. But good news for Obamacare supporters has kept rolling in over the last month after the disastrous launch. A recent RAND Corp. study said 9.3 million people had gained coverage through the insurance exchanges and expansion of the federal Medicaid program. On Monday, the CBO said more than 12 million net people had gained coverage.
Christine Eibner, a senior economist at RAND and one of the study’s two authors, told Business Insider upon the release of RAND’s study that Obamacare’s late surge came down to one very simple fact.
“People really want health insurance,” she said.
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