Obamacare Sign-Ups Hit 8 Million

President Obama revealed that over 8 million Americans have signed up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, exceeding projections.

The health law, often called Obamacare, instead has brought about the largest increase in insurance coverage in the United States in the half a century since Medicare and Medicaid were created. Photo: Abayomi Azikiwe/Flickr

The health law, often called Obamacare, instead has brought about the largest increase in insurance coverage in the United States in the half a century since Medicare and Medicaid were created. Photo: Abayomi Azikiwe/Flickr

President Barack Obama announced on Thursday that eight million people have signed up for the Affordable Care Act during the open enrollment period, with 2.2 million of them between 18 and 34 years old.

Previously, administration officials expected to achieve a level of 38 percent of people in the 18 to 34 age range, to give insurers a strong mix of healthier members whose premium payments help offset the cost of older, sicker policyholders. The figures the White House announced Thursday constitute 28 percent of total sign-ups.

“Whatever the total figure is of people who enroll by March 31st, the aggregate number,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in early January, “the total number is not as important as the overall makeup that you see in that population.”

The final numbers from the initial enrollment period come after Obama announced on April 1 that 7.1 million Americans had enrolled in the program. Shortly before her resignation last week, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius announced an uptick in that number to 7.5 million.

The final number announced Thursday includes the registrations of individuals who were “in line” to sign up but whose applications were not fully processed by the March 31 deadline.

The President urged Republicans, who remain almost universally opposed to the health care law, to move on. “I find it strange that the Republican position on this law is still stuck in the same place that is has always been. They still can’t bring themselves to admit that the Affordable Care Act is working,” he said.

And he said Democrats running for reelection this fall should “forcefully defend and be proud of the fact that millions of people … we’re helping because of something we did.”

The Congressional Budget Office — the government’s fiscal scorekeeper — said it expects only a minimal increase in customers’ costs for 2015. Over the next decade, the CBO said the new law will cost taxpayers $100 billion less than previously estimated.

Brendan Buck, a spokesperson for House Speaker John Boehner, said the White House was hiding the true, negative impact of the law.

“Beyond refusing to disclose the number of people who’ve actually enrolled by paying premiums, the President ignores the havoc that this law has wreaked on private plans that people already had and liked,” he said.

The Society of Actuaries, which analyzes insurance, predicts average premiums will increase 6 percent to 8.5 percent next year, compared to 7 percent to 10 percent in previous years. Rate increases will vary by state and locality, as well.

As the LA Times reports, estimates of the total increase in insurance coverage nationally are still preliminary, however, the level uninsured people has dropped.

The new Gallup survey data suggest that as many as 12 million previously uninsured Americans have gained coverage.  That number includes people who signed up on the new marketplaces, but also those who acquired insurance through the law’s expansion of Medicaid, through their employers or directly from insurers.

Just 12.9% of adults nationally lacked coverage in the first half of April, initial data from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index indicate. That’s down from 18% in the third quarter of 2013, just before the new marketplaces opened for business.

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