Last-minute surge: 5 million now signed up for Obamacare
Caroline Ramirez and Sam Martinez access the Affordable Care Act website. Critics say the ACA gives people the incentive to not work while working taxpayers foot health care costs. AP photo
By Maggie Fox, NBC News
(NBC) - Five
million people have now signed up for health insurance on the state and
federal online exchanges, the Obama administration said Monday — a
number that suggests a big-last minute surge to get coverage.
new figures suggest a final push by the White House to get people to
enroll is working. The deadline to get signed up for 2014 is March 31,
just two weeks away. As of March 1, the Health and Human Services
Department said 4.2 million people had signed up.
"Fernando Valdez and
Denise Schroeder were part of a weekend wave of consumers signing up for
new coverage and bringing enrollment nationwide to more than 5 million
through the federal and state-based marketplaces since October 1st,"
Marilyn Tavenner, head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid
Services, wrote in a blog post.
Valdez, 25, of El Paso, Texas woke up early on Saturday, after his
mother insisted that he walk to an enrollment center and enroll in
Marketplace coverage. Now, he will pay $22 a month for his health
insurance," Tavenner wrote. That's because he'll qualify for a hefty
federal subsidy to pay his premium.
"Denise, a small business owner in
West Chester, Pennsylvania who runs ‘Happy Heart Clown N'Stuff' which
does balloon decorating and entertainment for parties is also a cancer
survivor," Tavenner adds. Schroeder was paying $880 a month in premiums,
but qualified for a subsidized plan and will pay $22 a month, Tavenner
said. "When she saw the new premium, she cried," Tavenner wrote.
HHS, the White House and allies are trying every approach they can to encourage people to sign up for health insurance on the new exchanges after a technical disaster kept
millions from signing up for the first two months after they opened.
They've invoked moms and brought in celebrities; they've subjected President Barack Obama to online comedy shows and this month they're playing off "March Madness" college basketball playoffs.
The goal is not only to sign up at least 6 million people, but to get the right mix of young and healthy enrollees versus older and sicker people, so premiums don't have to spike next year.