Just over 100,000 people have fully enrolled in Obamacare and selected a health insurance plan through state or federal marketplaces, the White House says, numbers far below the Obama administration’s initial expectations for the program. Only a quarter of those enrolled in the health care marketplace used the widely criticized HealthCare.Gov to select a plan.
"To date, 106,185 persons have selected a Marketplace plan—this includes 79,391 in [state marketplaces] and 26,794 in [the federal marketplace]," reads a Wednesday report released by the Department of Health and Human Services. That number, according to NPR, is only about 20 percent of the Obama administration’s expected number of October enrollees.
The report also revealed that an additional 975,407 people have been determined eligible for the health insurance but have not selected a plan. Aditionally, 846,186 applications have been completed, and 396,261 people have been determined eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Overall, a total of 1,509,883 people are included in the completed applications.
Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius says that while the numbers are somewhat lower than expected, interest in the Affordable Care Act is high and will only increase with time.
"The promise of quality, affordable coverage is increasingly becoming reality for this first wave of applicants to the Health Insurance Marketplaces," Sebelius said in a statement. "We expect enrollment will grow substantially throughout the next five months.”
Sebelius also cited problems with HealthCare.Gov’s rollout as an explanation for the low turnout. While the site is getting better, Sebelius says, it is also under a large strain. According to the report, HealthCare.Gov and companion state marketplace websites saw 26,876,527 unique visitors through October, while 3,158,436 people contacted state and federal call centers for help navigating the site.
The report also highlighted the fact states which built their own health care marketplaces were drastically more successful at enrolling residents into health care plans. On average, only 744 people per state enrolled using HealthCare.Gov in the 36 states without their own marketplaces, while states with their own enrollment services saw an average of 5,293 select a plan.
The Obama administration did not disclose any details on the demographics of those enrolled, nor the kind of health insurance plan that enrollees selected.
Eric Brown is an IBTimes reporter who eats far too much pizza. He is a graduate of Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, and currently resides in Brooklyn.