Obamacare Enrollment Surges as Deadlines Approach

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Dec. 31 2013 4:22 PM

Obamacare Enrollment Surges as Deadlines Approach

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Photo by Kent Nishimura/AFP/Getty Images

2.1 million people have enrolled in private Obamacare insurance exchanges as of last Saturday, a strong (if not stellar) figure that stands to grow exponentially over the next few months. That's still over a million below the number of enrollments projected before October's Healthcare.gov calamity, but enough to indicate a comeback following greatly exaggerated reports of the program's death. The Obama administration is hoping to see about 7 million enrollments by March 31, when the grace period ends and the penalty—sorry, the tax—officially kicks in. 

There's more good news buried in the numbers: Over 800,000 people have been covered by Obamacare's Medicaid expansion, a number sure to grow as more and more states accept the program. And consumer protects that bar insurers from denying care based on a variety of factors (most notably preexisting conditions) will also kick in on New Year's Day. Despite Obamacare's rocky road to implementation, 2014 might be the year that many ambivalent Americans learn to love the landmark law. 

Mark Joseph Stern is a writer for Slate. He covers science, the law, and LGBTQ issues.

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