With just five weeks left in Obamacare's open enrollment period, federal officials Tuesday said new data show about 4 million people have already signed up for new health insurance plans sold under the Affordable Care Act.
But that new benchmark comes with several big caveats that could affect how people view Obamacare's success or lack thereof. Those include questions of just how many of those people actually pay for their first month of coverage, and how far behind enrollments have fallen from original projections.
The Obama administration in the past week has distanced itself from its own original estimates of Obamacare enrollment as it seeks to recast what would constitute success of the health-care reform law.
The new benchmark was disclosed Tuesday in a blog post by Marilyn Tavenner, head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
"Millions of Americans are taking advantage of the new choices they now have to access affordable, quality health care thanks to the the Affordable Care Act," Tavenner wrote. "The most recent data indicate that approximately 4 million people have now signed up for a private health insurance plan through the federal and state-based marketplaces since Oct. 1."
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Tavenner did not disclose how many of those 4 million are known to have paid their first month's premium, which is required for enrollment to be complete. Health insurance experts have estimated that about 20 percent of people who have signed up for Obamacare plans did not end up paying for those plans.