For the First Time, Obamacare Enrolled More People Than the Government Expected

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According to new enrollment numbers from the Department of Health and Human Services, more people enrolled in Obamacare in January that the government projected. A total of 3.3 million people have enrolled in Obamacare through February 1, and 1.149 million of those enrollments happened in January. The projections the Obama administration passed out in September — the one that expected half a million sign-ups in October — estimated 1.059 million people would sign up. So, for the first time in its rocky enrollment history, the exchanges have exceeded expectations. Not enough to make up for its disastrous October and November, but enough to further confirm the importance of working technology.

The new numbers have also revived an old and corny tradition among people who care about things like whether Obamacare is meeting it's monthly enrollment goals — #healthpolicyvalentines.

As Sarah Kliff at The Washington Post points out, this month's numbers are also less than the 1.8 million who signed up in December. Policy experts and health officials predicted a drop off given that there was no January deadline. That's also why the administration was glad to see decent numbers midway through January. 

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Some other things to consider:

  • The federal exchange is finally enrolling more people than the state-run exchanges, but not by much. About 1.9 million used while 1.4 million used a state-run exchange.
  • Medicaid applications have jumped 12 percent since the law took affect. Many have correctly pointed out that not all Medicaid enrollments are the result of the law, but the law has promoted the program as well as expanded it, which accounts for the uptick.
  • More women are signing up than men:

What we don't know, of course, is how many of the 3.3 million enrollees have paid for their plans, and the Department of Health has said it doesn't have that data. And while we also don't know how many enrollees had insurance beforehand, we do know that the number of uninsured has dropped to pre-recession rates

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.