Obama Says Health-Insurance Enrollees Reach 8 Million

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from The Wall Street Journal,

President Criticizes GOP, Saying ‘Repeal Debate Is and Should Be Over’.

Enrollment for private health insurance through federal and state exchanges has swelled to about 8 million, President Barack Obama announced Thursday.

“The repeal debate is and should be over,” Mr. Obama said of continued Republican opposition to the health care law. “The Affordable Care Act is working.”

The deadline for enrolling was March 31, but individuals who had trouble completing their applications were permitted another 15 days to finish the process. The White House said April 1 that at least 7.1 million people had picked plans, and then said last week that the number of enrollments stood at 7.5 million.

Mr. Obama touted the better-than-expected numbers, saying that many of the uninsured now have affordable coverage. Among those who signed up through the federal marketplace, about 35% are under the age of 35, the president said.

“The bottom line is under the Affordable Care Act, the share of Americans with insurance is up. The growth of health care costs is down,” Mr. Obama said.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office initially projected that seven million people would enroll in private health plans under the act, but later lowered that by one million after technical problems last fall crippled the HealthCare.gov website for signing up.

Some Republicans have questioned the White House’s figures, saying they want to know how many people have paid their premiums—not just the number of people who picked plans. Paying the first month’s premium is the final step necessary to enroll in coverage. Also not known: how many of the sign-ups were by people who were previously uninsured, as opposed to people who were switching from existing plans.

Mr. Obama jabbed at critics of the law, saying that Republicans can’t bring themselves to acknowledge that it is working. But he also offered a muted warning about premiums next year—saying he expected them to rise, while also noting the annual rate of health-care cost increases has fallen in recent years.

Some 28% of the enrollees in the federal marketplace are in the particularly coveted 18- to-34-year-old demographic, the White House said in a fact sheet released while Mr. Obama was speaking. Another 7% are children covered by family plans.

Republicans have also attacked the administration for failing to offer other elements of key information, including how many of the people who had used the exchanges had gained coverage after previously being uninsured. Bringing the uninsured into the health insurance system was a key promise in Mr. Obama’s push for the Affordable Care Act.

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