Between 40,000 and 50,000 people signed up for private health insurance plans through the website for Obamacare exchanges, well short of the goal put forward by the White House, according to a new report.
Citing “people familiar with the matter,” The Wall Street Journal found that actual enrollments were roughly one-tenth of the Obama administration's goal for the first month of the public health exchanges. Administration officials had expected that about 500,000 people would sign up for new health plans during the month of October.
The Department of Health and Human Services has yet to officially release enrollment figures. A HHS spokeswoman again reiterated that such a tally would come later this week.
The White House began lowering expectations for the first batch of enrollment figures, with HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius telling lawmakers last week that the initial tally would be “very low.”
Healthcare.gov has been overrun by problems that have kept consumers from comparing insurance plans online. The government has also had issues sharing information with insurers about the lucky few who have managed to navigate the online marketplaces.
The rocky rollout has taken a toll on the president’s approval ratings and has even caused some skittish Democrats to question whether the administration should delay portions of the president’s signature domestic achievement until the litany of problems is resolved.
Hoping to assuage growing concerns, the White House has cited the Massachusetts health law as a model, arguing that most enrollments will come closer to the deadline for Americans to sign up for insurance or pay a fine.
Initially the administration said 7 million people would enroll in private health plans by the end of March, but the glitch-filled rollout has put that figure in doubt, according to analysts.
This story was published at 4:44 p.m. and has been updated.