Sebelius says ‘the marketplace is working’ for health-care enrollment

Health and Human Services  Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testifies before a House committee. (Jim Bourg/Reuters) Health and Human Services  Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testifies before a House committee. (Jim Bourg/Reuters)

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Wednesday that the fact that 106,185 Americans have selected plans through either state or federal health insurance marketplaces shows Americans can get coverage despite the program's rocky rollout last month.

"The marketplace is working, people are enrolling," Sebelius told reporters in a conference call. "The promise of affordable health-care coverage is increasingly becoming a reality to more and more Americans."

Approximately 27,000 of the sign-ups between Oct. 1 and Nov. 2 came from 36 states where the federal government is running the health-insurance exchange, according to HHS. The remaining 79,000 came through the 15 marketplaces run by states and the District of Columbia.

"We expect these numbers to rise," Sebelius said.

When asked how confident she was that the Web site will be fully fixed by the end of the month, Sebelius emphasized that Americans should try to use it even if they encounter some glitches.

"It is running right now. Don't wait until the 30th of November," she said. "The Web site is very much operational."

Sebelius added that when Jeffrey Zients, the White House official overseeing the project to improve online enrollment, said he pledged that the site would be functioning "smoothly" for "the vast majority of users" by Nov. 30, "he recognized the fact that first of all, there will always be outlier cases. What we want is an experience for the vast majority of users that is easy to use, and gets them from start to finish without locking them out or timing them out."

Juliet Eilperin is The Washington Post's White House bureau chief, covering domestic and foreign policy as well as the culture of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. She is the author of two books—one on sharks, and another on Congress, not to be confused with each other—and has worked for the Post since 1998.

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