About 476,000 applications filed through Obamacare health exchanges, officials say

October 19, 2013

Administration officials say about 476,000 health insurance applications have been filed through federal and state exchanges, the most detailed measure yet of the problem-plagued rollout of President Obama’s signature legislation.

However, the officials continue to refuse to say how many people have actually enrolled in the insurance markets. Without enrollment figures, it’s unclear whether the program is on track to reach the 7 million people projecting by the Congressional Budget Office to gain coverage during the six-month sign-up period.

Obama’s advisers say the president has been frustrated by the flawed rollout. During one of his daily health-care briefings last week, he told advisers assembled in the Oval Office that the administration had to own up to the fact that there were no excuses for not having the health insurance marketplace’s Web site, HealthCare.gov, ready to operate as promised.

The president is expected to address the problems Monday during a health-care event at the White House. Cabinet members and other top administration officials will also be traveling around the country in the coming weeks to encourage sign-ups in areas with the highest population of uninsured people.

The first three weeks of sign-ups have been marred by a cascade of computer problems, which the administration says it is working around the clock to correct.

The officials said technology experts from inside and outside the government are set to work on the glitches, though they did not say how many workers were being added.

Officials did say staffing has been increased at call centers by about 50 percent. As problems persist on the federally run Web site, the administration is encouraging more people to sign up for insurance over the phone.

The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the health insurance rollout.

Interest in the insurance markets appears to continue to be high. Officials said about 19 million people had visited HealthCare.gov as of Friday night.

Of the 476,000 applications that have been started, just over half have been from the 36 states where the federal government is taking the lead in running the markets. The rest of the applications have come from the 14 states running their own markets, along with the District.

The White House says it plans to release the first enrollment totals from both the federal and state-run markets in mid-November.

An internal memo obtained by the Associated Press showed that the administration projected that nearly a half-million people would enroll in the insurance exchanges during the first month.

Officials say they expect enrollments to be heavier toward the end of the six-month sign-up window.

— Associated Press

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