U.S. government says demand for 2015 Obamacare plans jumped in week ending December 12

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 16, 2014 3:20 PM

(Reuters) - The U.S. government said on Tuesday that demand for the health insurance plans created under the national healthcare reform law, often called Obamacare, jumped during the fourth week of 2015 open enrollment to over 1 million people.

Between Nov. 15, when enrollment opened, and Dec. 12, nearly 2.5 million people signed up in the 36 states where these plans are sold through the HealthCare.gov website, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said in an e-mailed statement that also appeared on its blog.

Data from states that operate their own websites, such as California and New York, is not included in the agency's figures.

The government said that of those who signed up on HealthCare.gov during this four-week period, 1.28 million were renewing plans they had purchased for 2014.

The enrollment period ends on Feb. 15.

"Open enrollment, in our view, has just begun," Andy Slavitt, principal deputy administrator at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, said during a call with reporters.

Individuals had until Monday to purchase a plan if they wanted coverage to begin on Jan. 1, although those with 2014 coverage were automatically re-enrolled and some states running their own exchanges extended that deadline by several days.

In addition, Slavitt said, on Monday more than 1 million people phoned the federal call center, rather than use the website. Call-center workers were unable to complete the enrollment process for hundreds of thousands of them. The workers are continuing to call them back, and although the Dec. 15 deadline passed, these customers' coverage will begin on Jan. 1.

(Reporting by Caroline Humer and Sharon Begley; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)