More than six million people have signed up for health insurance through the federal and state marketplaces that are part of the new health care reform law, the White House said Thursday, with just days remaining until a critical enrollment deadline.
Passing the six-million mark brings enrollment in line with a revised estimate by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office of how many people would sign up before the March 31 enrollment deadline. But it means enrollment will almost surely fall short of the target of seven million that was initially set by the administration, a target that became out of reach after the hobbled rollout of the Healthcare.gov website last year. The Affordable Care Act requires that most uninsured Americans enroll by Monday or face a penalty, though the administration said this week that it will extend that date for potential enrollees who have had trouble signing up and for other Americans. President Barack Obama announced the latest figures during a conference call with health care advocates while he was traveling in Italy, the White House said.
"During the call, the President thanked the group for all their hard work to date and discussed the importance of building on this progress over the last four days of open enrollment," the White House said in a statement.
"With consumers’ interest in signing up for health insurance surging – yesterday there were over 1.5 million visits to HealthCare.gov and over 430,000 calls to the call centers – the President encouraged the navigators and volunteers to redouble their efforts over the next four days and leave no stone unturned in trying to bring affordable health coverage to as many Americans as possible by the March 31 deadline.
The latest figure marks a jump since the administration said earlier this month that 5 million people had signed up. But the White House did not break down enrollees by age, as it struggles to ensure that a high number of young people—typically healthier and cheaper to insure—sign up to compensate for older enrollees. In February, the administration said a quarter of the people who had signed up were in the 18-34 age group, below its goal of nearly 40 percent.
-with reporting from Zeke J Miller