Since October, 1.2 million have gained Obamacare coverage

December 11, 2013

Just about 1.2 million people have gained health coverage through Obamacare, according to new federal data released Wednesday morning.

Approximately 365,000 of those people have purchased private insurance and 803,000 have been determined to be eligible for the public Medicaid program. These numbers count data from both October and November, and show an especially quick growth in HealthCare.gov enrollment. You can see it in this graph:


Enrollment through the federal exchange grew from about 27,000 people in October to 137,000 through the end of November.

"The numbers continue to show tremendous demand for secure, continuous coverage," says Michael Hash, director of the Health and Human Services Office of Health Reform.

The numbers in the state marketplaces have grown too, albeit not as quickly. In the 14 states running their own exchanges, sign-ups went from 79,000 in the first month up to 227,000 for the two months together. This was slower growth than the federal marketplace, and suggests a bit of an evening out between the local and national health exchanges.

Whether this is good news depends a bit about the context you put these new numbers in. Comparing HealthCare.gov's enrollment from October to November shows huge growth, with the number of enrolled nearly quadrupling from the first month to the second. This is the type of growth pattern that the White House has projected: Slow at the start, but growing quickly as the deadline to purchase coverage gets closer.

That's the more positive frame. The more negative view is to look at these numbers in comparison to projections from before the health-care law's launch. The White House had previously projected a half-million private insurance enrollments through the exchange in October and 1.2 million people through the end of November. Those numbers are just for private insurance, and exclude Medicaid. We're now at the end of November, and still behind that target.

The evidence available so far suggests that enrollment will pick up even quicker this month in the lead-up to coverage starting Jan. 1. As many as 27,000 people signed up in a single day last week. Insurance shoppers don't seem to be giving up — and we'll see next month whether that means the administration can finally hit its projections.

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Evan Soltas · December 11, 2013