More than 1 million people used the U.S. healthcare.gov system to sign up for Obamacare plans in the seven days ending Dec. 12, the best week yet for enrollment in the program's second year. In total, 2.5 million Americans have signed up for health insurance plans since Nov. 15, when the online system opened for business, the government said today in a statement. The Obama administration's goal for 2015 is to get 9.1 million paying customers in plans sold under the law. Of people who have enrolled so far using healthcare.gov, 52 percent already had coverage under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and 48 percent were new customers.
The Affordable Care Act's open-enrollment process got off to a genuinely awful start last year, and was, for a time, one of the biggest news stories in the country. For much of the political world, the two months of healthcare.gov troubles were "Obama's Katrina," Watergate, and the end of progressive governance, rolled up into a single package.
A year later, the great start to the open-enrollment process has largely been treated as an afterthought, though the successes are hard for anyone to deny.
To provide some additional context, last year, after three months, 2.2 million consumers had signed up for coverage through healthcare.gov. This year, after one month, it's 2.5 million.
What's more, this figure understates the national total because it doesn't include Americans who've enrolled in state-based exchange marketplaces.
Charles Gaba, whose projections are eerily good -- and have actually been slightly more accurate that HHS's own figures on occasion -- has revised his projections and believes total ACA enrollments should reach 12.5 million by the end of the open-enrollment period.
Even many "Obamacare" optimists didn't expect to see this much success at this point.
And let's not forget, as strong as enrollment totals look, the scope of the progress isn't limited to this one metric. As we discussed a couple of weeks ago, heartening news -- which is to say, heartening for those who want to see the American health care system succeed -- coincides with a whole host of encouraging reports throughout the system, including encouraging data on premiums. And customer satisfaction rates. And the lowest increase in health care spending in 50 years. And the growing number of insurers who want to participate in exchange marketplaces. And high enrollment totals with consumers who paid their premiums. And the efficacy of Medicaid expansion. And the sharp improvement in the nation’s uninsured rate. And the efficacy of the medical-loss ratio. And reduced medical errors system-wide.
There is, of course, a very real possibility that Republicans on the Supreme Court will try to tear down our health care infrastructure next year, causing chaos and peril for millions of families, based on the perception of a drafting error. But if they do, it's important to understand that GOP policymakers will be taking a sledgehammer to a system that's working very well, whether critics want to admit it or not.