By: Jonathan Easley
About 3.3 million people have selected a healthcare plan under ObamaCare, the Health and Human Services (HHS) Department announced on Wednesday.
More than 1.1 million people enrolled in January, on top of the 2.2 million who selected plans from October through December.
January surpasses December as the month with the most enrollments, when a push by the administration and the first open enrollment deadline at the end of the year resulted in more than 1 million people signing up.
Few people predicted January would be a banner month for enrollments, so Friday’s announcement indicates there is active demand for coverage and that the administration’s and insurers’ bid to get the word out about the law is gaining momentum.
That’s encouraging news for the Obama administration, as some experts had predicted a fall-off in enrollments for January. A flood of last-minute sign-ups is also expected in March, when open enrollment ends for 2014, and the penalty associated with the individual mandate kicks in.
The administration’s goal had been to have 3 million enrolled by the end of the 2013, and 7 million by the end of March, but technical issues at HealthCare.gov have tempered those expectations.
If there isn’t a significant fall-off in February, the administration might approach the Congressional Budget Office’s initial estimate of having 7 million enrollees for 2014. The administration has not said how many of the 3 million have actually finalized their enrollments by making their first premium payments.
The administration said 25 percent of those enrolled are between the ages of 18 and 34, a slight improvement from earlier in the year.
The demographic breakdown has skewed older, and the healthcare law needs healthy consumers, who are typically younger, to keep premiums from rising. Experts say 40 percent is the ideal number of 18-34 year olds, although age is not as important as the health of those consumers.
This week, dozens of health, youth, and charitable organizations, including Young Invincibles, Enroll America, United Way Worldwide, and the American Cancer Society, are holding a week of action — including a National Youth Enrollment Day on Saturday — to educate uninsured young adults about their new coverage options. The push will include more than 100 education and enrollment events across the country.