HHS reports 106,000 have picked health plans through ObamaCare exchanges

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The Department of Health and Human Services reported Wednesday that more than 100,000 people have selected a health care plan through the ObamaCare exchanges — a number that, likely due to widespread website failures, falls far short of the administration’s goal.

The administration had originally hoped to sign up a half-million people in the first month of open enrollment. Now more than six weeks into the troubled launch of HealthCare.gov and other state-based exchanges, HHS announced Wednesday that 106,185 people had selected a plan as of Nov. 2. And just 27,000 did so via the federal exchanges.

The announcement had been highly anticipated, as lawmakers have been pressing the administration for weeks on official figures.

“The marketplace is working, and people are enrolling,” Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius claimed in announcing the figures, adding that the numbers should grow “substantially” in the coming months.

But even the statistic revealed on Wednesday might be inflated.

The administration said the figure counts all those who have selected a health care plan from state and federal exchanges, even if they haven’t yet paid a premium on those plans.

The administration says a total of 975,407 applied for coverage and received an eligibility determination, but have not yet selected a plan. In addition to the 106,185 who have selected a plan, another 396,261 have been determined as eligible for Medicaid or a similar government program for children.

A closer look at the numbers, though, shows how problems with HealthCare.gov have hampered the ability of would-be customers to enroll. Though the administration says the website is being fixed and it’s getting better by the day, the stats show only 27,000 people signed up via the federally run exchanges. The state-run exchanges, which use different websites, signed up roughly 79,000. More than half of those sign-ups came from California and New York.

After the announcement, House Speaker John Boehner said the numbers “underscore the urgent need for President Obama to allow people to keep the plans they have and like.”

He added: “Above all, this report is a symbol of the failure of the president’s health care law. It is a rolling calamity that must be scrapped.”

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