TUESDAY, Nov. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Fewer than 50,000 people
have enrolled in health insurance through the federal
HealthCare.gov website, according to published reports.
The tally represents enrollment in the troubled federal health
insurance exchange from its launch date on Oct. 1 through last
Wall Street Journalreported Monday.
The Obama administration had expected some 500,000 people to
enroll in coverage by the end of October through HealthCare.gov,
according to internal memos cited by House Ways and Means Chairman
Dave Camp (R-Mich.).
But slow response times, timed-out pages and bugs have snarled
attempts by many Americans to complete an online application for
health insurance coverage.
The administration's information technology team, including
individuals from private-sector technology companies like Oracle
and Red Hat Inc., is working through a "punch list" of fixes while
adding new items to the list as additional problems are discovered
with the website.
HealthCare.gov serves as the insurance exchange for people in 36
Separately, a report released Monday by the research and
analysis firm Avalere Health LLC found that state-run health
insurance exchanges are also experiencing lower-than-expected
Twelve of the nation's 14 state exchanges had enrolled 49,100
people as of Nov. 10, according to the analysis. The initial count
represents just 3 percent of the 1.4 million people that Avalere
projects to enroll in coverage through those state exchanges by the
end of 2014.
The report was based on data released by the states and for the
most part extracts enrollment in Medicaid. California, which has
only released the number of started applications, not completed
enrollments, is not included in the analysis. Nor is Massachusetts,
which established its health exchange in 2006 as part of a state
health-reform initiative. It is requiring some current enrollees to
reapply for coverage.
The two reports suggest that enrollment through the federal and
state exchanges is sharply lagging the administration's target of 7
million people by the end of March.
The federal and state exchanges are intended to be the gateway
for private health plan coverage for some 30 million uninsured
Americans under the health-reform law known as the Affordable Care
Administration officials are expected to release official
enrollment data sometime this week.
Meanwhile, some insurance companies are pushing the
administration for an end-run around the hobbled HealthCare.gov
exchange to allow them to directly enroll people entitled to
The New York Timesreported.
Timessaid the administration has so far resisted the idea,
because of concerns about giving insurance companies access to
personal data. But, the newspaper added, senior White House
officials may now be more open to ways to allowing insurers to
handle more enrollments because of the federal website's technical
Chris Jennings, a senior health care adviser to President Obama,
said in a statement that the administration was "continuing to
pursue additional avenues by which people can enroll, such as
direct enrollment through insurance companies, that will help meet
pent-up demand," the
State websites, overall, have experienced fewer problems than
the federal health insurance exchange. Yet compared with early
enrollment in Medicare's prescription drug program, which took
effect in 2006, state-based enrollment through the Affordable Care
Act is lagging.
"When Medicare Part D began, two-thirds of people who voluntarily enrolled in a plan did so after coverage began on Jan. 1," Avalere reported.
Learn how to get insurance coverage through the new
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