The first week of 2015’s open enrollment period, in which individuals can select a health insurance plan under the Affordable Care Act, got off to a “solid” start, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said on Wednesday.
Between Nov. 15 and Nov. 21, 462,000 people signed up for health insurance plans through HealthCare.gov, the federally run insurance marketplace. Additionally, millions more visited Healthcare.gov to learn about their plan options, according to HHS. Those numbers do not include the consumers who selected health insurance plans through a state-based marketplace.
"We had a solid start," Secretary Burwell told reporters on a conference call Wednesday, "but we have a lot of work to do every day between now and February 15th," the day open enrollment ends.
The boost in numbers follows months of work aimed at improving Healthcare.gov, which launched last year with numerous bugs and defects that threatened to sink the entire Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement. One health official said Wednesday that the website is now "better, faster, and more intuitive," with an average wait time of 3.5 minutes.
Still, whether or not the Obama administration will hit its enrollment targets for the end of the year -- which have already been slashed from 13 million to about nine -- remains to be seen.