A new report from the Commonwealth Fund found that more than a million Americans have signed up for a health-care plan through online state or federal marketplaces, a vast improvement over prior months.
According to the Commonwealth Fund report, a total of 1,024,802 people either selected or enrolled in healthcare plans using either HealthCare.gov or one of the unique marketplaces maintained by 14 states and the District of Columbia by December 20. About 640,000 of these sign-ups came from the federal marketplace.
The report also notes that numbers in states like California and New York may actually be under-reported, as enrollment in these high-population states continues to increase. On Wednesday, the Washington Post reported that California’s health-care marketplace has seen an average of 15,000 sign-ups each day, a number that will likely increase as the January 1 enrollment deadline approaches.
The mid-December numbers are a huge step up from the preceding months. Last week, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius revealed that less than 365,000 Americans had signed up for health care through the end of November. Now that the Obama administration has revamped the federal HealthCare.gov marketplace, however, numbers have surged. The final enrollment tally may not meet the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate of 7 million sign-ups, but it could come close by the end of the year.
President Obama defended the rising numbers at a press conference on Friday, citing them as proof that HealthCare.gov's troubles are all in the past.
“All told, millions of Americans, despite the problems with the website, are now poised to be covered by quality affordable health insurance come New Year’s Day,” Obama said according to Politico.
“Now, this holiday season there are mothers and fathers and entrepreneurs and workers who have something new to celebrate: the security of knowing that when the unexpected or misfortune strikes, hardship no longer has to,” Obama continued. “And you add that all up and what it means is: We head into next year with an economy that’s stronger than it was when we started the year.”
Eric Brown is an IBTimes political reporter who eats far too much pizza. He is a graduate of Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, and currently resides in Brooklyn.