More than 250,000 Americans selected private health-insurance plans through Obamacare enrollment systems last month, twice as many as in October when the exchanges opened amid technology errors and outages.
Kathleen Sebelius, the U.S. health secretary, called for an investigation of what went wrong with the Oct. 1 debut and said she’s taking steps to prevent future failures. While the Obama administration said it’s optimistic about the improved performance of the online exchange, it’s behind in the effort to meet a goal of 7 million people enrolled by March 31.
All told, 364,682 people in two months selected an insurer using the federal and state exchanges created by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, according to a government report today. An additional 803,077 were found eligible for state children’s health plans or Medicaid, the program for the poor being expanded in at least 26 states next year.
“We think we’re on track and we will reach the total that we thought because we’re only two-and-a-half months into a six-month open-enrollment period,” Mike Hash, the director of the office of health reform at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said on a conference call with reporters.
The improved performance has both major political parties shifting strategies. With Obama preparing a January advertising blitz and wave of celebrity promotions, Republican opponents in Congress are highlighting examples of people who are paying more for insurance or losing access to their doctors.