975,000 enrolled in December
Numbers do not include those who enrolled via state-run marketplaces
Open enrollment for the year ends March 31
More than 1.1 million people enrolled in health care coverage through the federal marketplace between October 1 and December 24, the government announced Sunday.
The vast majority of them – 975,000 – enrolled in December, Marilyn Tavenner, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said in a blog post.
She called it “a welcome surge in enrollment” due in part to improvements in the notoriously glitch-plagued website healthcare.gov.
It’s unclear how many people who visited the site were unable to use it – a problem shared by millions across the country. On December 23 alone, the site saw nearly 2 million page views and the call center received more than 250,000 calls, officials said.
The 1.1 million enrollments do not include individuals who signed up for insurance through the state-run marketplaces. Fourteen states and the District of Columbia operate their own exchanges.
Several states also reported a surge in enrollment. California, for example, saw 77,000 people pick a plan in the last days before the deadline.
It also does not include a flood of new enrollees for Medicaid. As of November 30, more than 800,000 were found eligible for the insurance program for the poor.
Individuals who missed last week’s deadline for coverage that begins January 1 can still sign up for coverage starting February 1. That deadline is January 15.
Open enrollment for the year ends March 31, and most people who do not have health insurance at that point face a penalty. Larry Levitt, a health care expert at the Kaiser Family Foundation, noted on Sunday that the open enrollment period is halfway over. “I would expect an even bigger surge in March (the actual deadline) than in December,” he tweeted.
The Obama administration’s goal is to have 7 million people enroll through both the federal and state exchanges by the end of March.