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Obamacare enrollment increases up to nearly 18 million

Despite the jump in insured Americans, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell expects the upcoming enrollment season to “be tougher than last year.”

Roughly 17.6 million Americans have gained health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration said Tuesday, with minorities and young adults seeing the largest increase in health insurance.

The latest figures also show that an estimated 10.5 million uninsured people are eligible to sign up for plans on state and federal exchanges, during the upcoming open enrollment season that starts on Nov. 1.

“Five years in, millions of people have new coverage and the percentage of the uninsured has been reduced to the lowest level on record,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell in a statement. “We now have a new opportunity before us to build on this progress. We know current Marketplace customers are satisfied with their coverage, and we expect most to continue with it."

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The newly released figures show that minorities have seen the largest increase in insurance coverage. About four million Latino adults gained coverage, an 11.5% drop in the uninsurance rate, while nearly three million African-Americans gained insurance, a 10.3% reduction. Roughly seven million white adults became insured, representing a 6% drop.

The administration said the plunge in the uninsured rate is due in part to the fact that young adults up to age 26 are able to stay on their parents’ plans, Medicaid has been expanded in 29 states and Washington D.C., and customers are allowed to buy private plans through the Health Insurance Marketplaces.

Despite the increase in insured Americans, Burwell expects the upcoming enrollment season to “be tougher than last year.”

While the administration will work to bolster enrollment across the country, she said they will specifically target Houston, northern New Jersey, Chicago, and Miami, areas which have the highest numbers of uninsured who are still eligible for coverage.