December health care sign-ups top October

McClatchy NewspapersDecember 4, 2013 

— More people signed up for Affordable Care Act health plans in the first two days of December than in all of October after the U.S. government rehabilitated its error-prone insurance-exchange website.

About 29,000 people selected health plans through the federal exchange from Dec. 1 through Dec. 2, according to a person familiar with the data who asked not to be identified because the final numbers are being cross-checked. About 26,000 people in October bought health plans through the federal system.

The new numbers provide some hope to the administration that President Barack Obama’s health-care overhaul can succeed after the botched Oct. 1 debut of the online insurance marketplaces stymied customers with outages, slow load times and garbled data. Obama Tuesday began a three-week campaign to regain momentum for his signature initiative, which he said is seeing increasing participation.

“We certainly expect enrollment to increase given technical improvements we’ve made to the site,” Joanne Peters, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services, said in an email without providing specific data. “We are two months into a sustained six-month long open enrollment period that we expect will ramp up over time.”

The government said Dec. 1 that after six weeks of repairs, it had met goals for making the federal website, which serves residents in 36 states, fully functional for most users. The 14 states that operate their own exchanges are also reporting improvement.

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