The flaws of the Obamacare health insurance exchange have been widely publicized, and few probably expected the program to meet its target enrollment numbers during the first month.
The Wall Street Journal reported some new figures for 36 states Monday night, and claimed that fewer than 50,000 people successfully enrolled on the HealthCare.gov website. Data from the remaining states is expected later in the week.
Before the error-filled launch, the federal government expected up to 7 million people to enroll in the program by March 31. Americans will be required to enroll before December 15 if they want coverage to start on the first of the year, and all uninsured Americans will be required to have health insurance by March 31 or face a penalty.
Erin Shields Britt, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, indicated that the Wall Street Journal figures are not official. "We cannot confirm these numbers," she said. "More generally, we have always anticipated that initial enrollment numbers would be low and increase over time."
Republicans, who have notoriously opposed the Affordable Care Act, may now have more fuel for their criticisms. And as they struggle to overcome their tarnished image after the recent government shutdown, spurred by GOP refusal to fund Obamacare, right-wing politicians will likely not miss this opportunity to say, “I told you so.”
Utah Senator Orrin Hatch commented several days ago on speculation that only five DC residents had signed up for Obamacare.
“With numbers like these, it’s no wonder the Obama administration hasn’t wanted to release how many people have signed up for Obamacare,” he said. “With data from D.C.’s four participating health plans in, there’s been a whopping five people enrolled in the city’s exchange. That’s right – five. Whether it’s significant problems with the website, people being forced off the coverage they had or skyrocketing costs, these numbers are even more proof of what a disaster Obamacare is and why it should be delayed.”
Democratic officials have argued that Hatch’s figures do not accurately depict the demand.