Obamacare Enrollment Doubled in November, but Still Far Short of Pre-Launch Projections

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Dec. 11 2013 10:35 AM

Obamacare Enrollment Doubled in November, but Still Far Short of Pre-Launch Projections

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This December 2, 2013 photo shows a woman reading the HealthCare.gov insurance marketplace internet site in Washington, D.C.

Photo by Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images

The White House this morning is out with the official Obamacare enrollment numbers for last month. They represent a major improvement over October's dismal figures, but are still no where near where the White House had originally suggested they'd be two months into the rollout of the online exchanges, via Reuters:

The number of people seeking health insurance under Obamacare more than doubled in November to around 250,000, according to a government report on Wednesday, showing the landmark healthcare law is still far from its goal of extending coverage to millions of uninsured Americans.
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The new tally brought the cumulative total for October and November to 365,000 people who have selected health plans in new online marketplaces set up in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Just over 800,000 have been determined eligible for government health coverage including the Medicaid program for the poor. ...

Prior to the Oct. 1 launch of the online exchanges, as the Washington Post reminds us, the White House had projected about 1.2 million people would have bought private insurance through the exchanges in the first two months. The new numbers come as the White House is in the midst of a three-week blitz to relaunch and reboot the Obamacare website ahead of the Dec. 23 enrollment deadline for Jan. 1 coverage.

Today's numbers include people who have enrolled through either the federal exchange or the 14 state-specific ones. Roughly 137,000 November enrollees managed to sign up through healthcare.gov, a figure that more than quadruples October's total for the troubled federal website.

While the early numbers haven't lived up to the White House's pre-launch expectations, the trend we're seeing now—a sharp rise in the number of people signing up for insurance relatively late in the enrollment game–is more or less what the administration had been projecting all along (albeit obviously without the early disaster that was federal website during its first month). Unofficial estimates from earlier this month suggest that as many 29,000 people signed up through the federal exchange in the first two days of December alone.

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Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. Follow him on Twitter.