Obamacare private insurance plans had signed up almost 8.02 million people by April 19, the effective end of open enrollment in the new health coverage, officials said Thursday.
Nearly half — 47 percent — of total enrollment for the six-month sign-up period for Obamacare plans came in just the last seven weeks, officials said.
While there was significant variation in the enrollment success, or lack thereof, among individual states, the insurance risk pools created by Obamacare exchanges "in every state" are large enough and diverse enough to keep premium prices stable in 2015, predicted Mike Hash, director of health reform efforts at the Health and Human Services Department.
HHS also disclosed that an additional 4.8 million people were enrolled in government-provided Medicaid as of March 31, compared to Medicaid's total enrollment in October.
Health exchanges under the Affordable Care Act launched in October and began assessing whether individuals were eligible for private Obamacare plans or for Medicaid, which covers people with lower incomes. Many of the newly Medicaid-eligible people enrolled in that program via government-run exchanges. There is year-round enrollment in Medicaid, and about half of the states have loosened their eligibility rules to allow more poor adults to sign up.
The enrollment tally in the private exchange plans was not surprising, as President Barack Obama had already said two weeks ago that Obamacare sign-ups in such plans had topped 8 million.
That was 1 million more than what had been predicted last summer by the Congressional Budget Office. But nonetheless, it came as a surprise because of the botched launch of the federal HealthCare.gov exchange last fall, when serious technical glitches effectively crippled enrollment efforts for two whole months.
The final tally was bolstered by a dramatic wave of enrollments in the last six weeks of open enrollment, including a noticeable surge of younger adults whose participation in the exchanges had been lagging behind insurers' hopes. In three states whose Republican governors are hostile to Obamacare — Texas, Georgia and Florida — enrollment grew by 123 percent or more since March 1, officials said.