Obamacare on Track to Beat Enrollment Targets

More than 6 million people picked plans in the first month of enrollment.

Obamacare is easily on track to beat the administration's enrollment targets, with more than 6 million people already signed up for coverage.

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said Tuesday that 6.4 million people have either selected new plans or automatically renewed their coverage through the law's federally run insurance exchanges.

That total encompasses just the first month of Obamacare's second open-enrollment period, which runs through Feb. 15. It doesn't include sign-ups from state-run exchanges. With those states included, the total would be considerably higher. California alone has already reported about 1.2 million sign-ups.

The figures indicate that the administration is likely to hit its goal covering 9 million to 10 million people, total, in 2015. That goal was always seen as a relatively modest one—a target the administration was very likely to to hit, and significantly lower than the Congressional Budget Office's estimates.

The 6.4 million people who selected plans through the federally run exchanges include about 1.9 million new customers. The rest are current customers who either automatically renewed their coverage or shoped for a new plan.

Somewhere around 30 to 40 percent of existing enrollees took some action to shop for a better deal in 2015, Burwell said—an encouraging sign for the administration, which has urged consumers to shop around. People who automatically renew their policies are at risk for some of the biggest out-of-pocket premium increases anywhere in the system.

Burwell declined to give specifics at a news conference Tuesday about the administration's preparation for a Supreme Court ruling that could wreak havoc on Obamacare. The court is expected to rule this summer in a case that aims to invalidate insurance subsidies provided in the 36 states with federally run exchanges, which would dramatically erode enrollment and threaten to destabilize insurance markets in most of the country.

Burwell would not offer specifics about any contingency planning for such a ruling, saying only that HHS is confident the law is on its side.