About half a million people selected a health insurance plan in the first week of the 2015 enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act, according to a new federal report that underscores huge progress since last year, when website problems made signing up for coverage nearly impossible.
From Nov. 15 to Nov. 21, the Department of Health and Human Services announced, 462,125 people signed up for a plan through HealthCare.gov, the federally run insurance marketplace that serves 37 states nationwide.
Tens of thousands of additional people signed up for coverage on state-run marketplaces in the remaining 13 states, including California, Maryland and Connecticut, and the District of Columbia. California reported last week that more than 11,000 people had selected plans in the first four days of open enrollment.
The HealthCare.gov total — which is split roughly evenly between new enrollees and people renewing coverage they had in 2014 — is a major advance from last year, when the website did not work for more than a month.
Just 106,000 people signed up for coverage in the first month of open enrollment last year.
This year, it appears that the site is working far better. Administration officials said Wednesday it had not crashed since it opened, though it had twice directed users to an online “waiting room” that is deployed when there is high volume or other technical issues with the site.
In total, more than 3.7 million users visited HealthCare.gov in the first week of the new enrollment period, according to the health agency.
And in another indication of improvement, wait times at call centers around the country averaged only a little more than three minutes.
Still, it remains unclear whether the Obama administration will be able to hit enrollment targets by the time the sign-up period closes in 2 1/2 months.
The tally released Wednesday counts only plan selections, not the number of people who have paid premiums, which is usually lower. Consumers have until the middle of December to pay in order to guarantee they have coverage starting Jan. 1. Continue reading “#Obamacare Sign-ups Near 500,000 in 1st Week of 2014 Enrollment”