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More than 1 million people pick Obamacare plans on HealthCare.gov in first two weeks

A worker informs people about the Affordable Care Act.
Lucy Nicholson | Reuters
A worker informs people about the Affordable Care Act.

These health plans might be on their way out soon — but people sure keep buying them.

More than 1 million people selected an Obamacare insurance plan sold on the big federal health marketplace in the first two weeks of open enrollment for 2017 coverage, a slight uptick in the signup pace compared with last year, officials said Wednesday.

That marketplace that serves residents of 39 states, HealthCare.gov, saw a big surge of plan selections from Election Day, Nov. 9, to last Friday. During that three-day period, more than 300,000 people selected a plan on HealthCare.gov. For a plan selection to be official, a customer must pay their first month's premium.

Federal officials faced with President-elect Donald Trump, who at various times has promised to repeal Obamacare and replace it with another health-care law, touted the pace of signups Wednesday.

"The American people are demonstrating how much they continue to want and need the coverage the marketplace offers," said Sylvia Burwell, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. "And we are encouraging all Americans who need health insurance for 2017 to visit HealthCare.gov or their state marketplace and check out their options."

Most of the people who selected a plan on HealthCare.gov were consumers who were renewing their coverage.

Of the 1,008,218 people who selected a plan in the first two weeks of enrollment, a total of 761,785 were from renewals. The remaining 246,433 were new customers.

The total tally for the first 12 days of enrollment was 53,000 more than the tally during the same period last year, according to officials.

Nearly 12 million people signed up for coverage from a plan sold on HealthCare.gov or one of the state-run Obamacare exchanges during open enrollment last season.

Enrollment in individual health plans continues through Jan. 31. Under the Affordable Care Act, most Americans must have some form of health coverage — such as through a job, Medicare, Medicaid or an individual plan — during the year or face a potential tax penalty.

That mandate to have coverage is expected to stay in effect through 2017, as it will take time for Trump and the Republican Congress to repeal Obamacare, if that's what they end up doing, and replace it with other provisions, as the president-elect has suggested he will.