WASHINGTON (MCT) — About 3 million people have now enrolled in health insurance plans sold through marketplaces created by President Barack Obama's health care law, the administration announced Friday.
The milestone indicates nearly a million additional people have signed up since the end of December. It also suggests that the marketplaces are continuing to recover from a disastrous launch on Oct. 1.
Administration officials expressed optimism Friday that enrollment would increase through the end of March, when the open enrollment period for 2014 coverage closes.
"As our outreach efforts kick into even higher gear, we anticipate these numbers will continue to grow, particularly as we reach even more uninsured young adults," Medicare and Medicaid chief Marilyn Tavenner, whose agency is overseeing the rollout, said in a blog post.
The state-based marketplaces — a centerpiece of the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare — were created so that Americans who do not get coverage at work could select among plans that offer at least a basic set of benefits and cannot turn away sick people.
Americans who make less than four times the federal poverty level — or about $94,000 for a family of four — qualify for government subsidies to offset the cost of their premiums.
Even with the rising enrollment, it is unclear if the administration will hit its target of 7 million enrollees this year. But most experts believe there will be another surge in March, as people rush to get insurance so they will not be hit with a penalty for not having coverage.
It also remains unclear how many of the new enrollees were previously uninsured and how many are healthy, key metrics that will determine the effectiveness of the new marketplaces. The Obama administration has not released this information.