health plans@ (Adds analyst)
NEW YORK, Dec 21 (Reuters) - About 8.8 million people signed up for 2018 Obamacare health insurance plans on the federally run HealthCare.gov, a top U.S. health official said on Thursday, about a 4 percent decline from sign-ups for 2017.
The Twitter post from Seema Verma, the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, did not provide further details.
The truncated sign-up period for 2018 policies closed on Dec. 15 on the federal website, which handles online enrollment in 39 states. The remaining states run their own online enrollment and have deadlines as late as Jan. 31.
Evercore ISI analyst Michael Newshel said that the numbers for HealthCare.gov indicate that exchange enrollment appears to be on track to be relatively stable, a positive for health insurers like Centene Corp that sell plans under Obamacare.
Newshel said the HealthCare.gov enrollment could rise from the 8.8 million because the U.S. government extended the enrollment period in several hurricane-affected areas. Enrollment in states that run their own exchanges and account for about 25 percent of sign-ups is tracking toward "flattish" performance, he wrote in a research note.
(Reporting by Caroline Humer; Editing by Will Dunham)