Another Obamacare press release, another milestone that falls short of original goals. The Department of Health and Human Services reported today that five million people have now signed up for insurance through the government exchanges. The administration had hoped to enroll seven million by the March 31 deadline. After the bungled rollout, that estimate was revised down to six million.
While total sign-ups still lag both targets, the pace is picking up slightly, as the administration had hoped would be the case in the final weeks and days of open enrollment. 800,000 people applied for coverage so far in March, compared to 1.1 million in all of February. The latest release does not report the ages of enrollees, information that has been closely watched by the administration and insurers. Of particular interest is the percentage of sign-ups who are between the ages of 18 and 34, a healthy demographic needed to keep costs down.
Many are quick to point out the headline enrollment numbers obscure the more meaningful data on how many plans have actually been purchased. According a New York Times analysis, as many as 20 percent of enrollees have not paid their first month’s premium, meaning they are not actually insured. The official number of those who have enrolled and completed their first payment has not yet been released.