The Health and Human Services Department announced on Dec. 21 that 400,000 more Americans signed up to have Obamacare for 2017 than did so last year, despite widely-reported insurance rate hikes in many areas.
Two million new customers signed up during an open enrollment period that saw a total of 6.4 million Americans elect to have coverage starting Jan. 1, 2017, in the 39 states that federally operate Affordable Care Act plans, reports the Huffington Post.
"We're going to finish this open enrollment by trying to enroll more people than ever," Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell told reporters, according to the Post. "Today's enrollment numbers confirm that some of the doomsday predictions about the marketplace are not bearing out."
Though the overall number of those who signed up in the upcoming year for Obamacare is higher than the previous period, new enrollments are down from 2.4 million for 2016, notes the Post. However, the existing figures do not include existing customers whose plans were automatically renewed, which Burwell said could include millions more enrollees and will be released in January.
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"More are signing up by the day," Obama said at a White House press conference on Dec. 16, before open enrollment had ended, according to a White House press release.
"When I came into office, 44 million people were uninsured. Today, we've covered more than 20 million of them. For the first time in our history, more than 90 percent of Americans are insured," he added later.
Obamacare faced some hurdles moving into the open enrollment period that began on Nov. 15, including the threat of brutal rate hikes and unsubsidized premiums, notes the Post. During the first two years of the Affordable Care Act, insurers dealt with rates much higher than anticipated, since more sick customers and fewer healthy ones signed up than expected. Customers also had fewer coverage options, as several major providers removed or reduced their offerings.
Even so, Burwell said that the enrollment period was a success and that the enrollments meet their expectations for the year.