Embattled HealthCare.Gov Sees Dramatic Enrollment Surge In November


Enrollment though increased fourfold in November, a new report released Wednesday morning by the Obama administration finds, as 110,410 Americans signed up for private coverage through the site last month, compared to just 26,794 in October. Overall, the pace of enrollment has doubled and administration officials expect a flood of new customers ahead of the Dec. 23rd deadline for coverage that begins on Jan. 1.

“We think we are on track and we will reach the total that we thought,” Michael Hash Director of HHS’ Office of Health Reform said on a press call with reporters, reiterating the administration’s target of enrolling seven million Americans in the health care marketplaces by the end of open enrollment on March 31. “Based upon the experience such as that in Massachusetts, we expect that the bulk of enrollees will occur towards the end of the open enrollment period,” Hash added.

Indeed, the report includes a chart showing a ramp-up in enrollment, one that resembles the Massachusetts example:


Enrollment for Massachusetts’ Commonwealth Care in 2007:


According to cumulative numbers for the first two months of enrollment (October 1 through Nov 30th), a total of 1.9 million people made it through the process but have yet to select a plan. Of the 1.2 million who did, 803,077 have been determined to be eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and 364,682 Americans selected plans through the state-run or federal insurance marketplaces (137,204 through and 227,478 in state-run exchanges). California and New York are the top states for enrollment.

Administration officials characterized the numbers as “encouraging,” saying that they “expect the numbers to grow over time especially with the technical improvements made to the website.” The site, which crashed repeatedly throughout October, began improving in November and can now serve the vast majority of users reliably, officials claim. Press reports indicate that roughly 56,000 Americans signed up for insurance on the federal exchange in the first three days of Dec.

However, some insurers are still receiving inaccurate or duplicative enrollment data through the so-called 834 transmission forms, a problem that remains a “top priority” for the administration. Julie Bataille, Director of the Office of Communications at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, had estimated that a fourth of all enrollments in October and November may have contained erroneous information, data transmission errors, duplicate forms, or no forms. “As we move forward with a lot of the technical fixes in place, we believe that 9 out of 10 of the transaction forms being successfully transmitted are occurring,” Bataille said.

She also added that the administration will be “in touch from CMS and from issuers and individually with consumers so that they know what steps they need to take so that they know their coverage is effective” come Jan. 1.