President Obama announced Thursday that 8 million people have enrolled in private insurance plans in the federal and state marketplaces under the Affordable Care Act.
The updated enrollment number comes nearly two weeks after the president announced 7.1 million people had selected plans on both state and federal exchanges on April 1, the day after the law’s first open enrollment period. Individuals struggling to secure insurance on the federal exchange, healthcare.gov, had an extension until April 15 to get coverage. Those still uninsured now have to wait for the 2015 open enrollment period to sign up.
The White House also announced that 35% of those who signed up for coverage were under 35. Twenty-eight percent are between the ages of 18 and 34, falling shy of the administration’s 40% target. This demographic is needed to keep premium levels down, and to offset the costs of insuring older, and likely sicker, enrollees.
“The repeal debate should be over,” Obama said during a White House press briefing with reporters, urging Congressional Republicans to move forward. “The Affordable Care Act is working.”
The ACA mandates every individual in the country have insurance or face a fine of $95 a year or 1% of their annual income for failing to comply.
Enrollment reports from the Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the White House continue to define enrollees as those who have “selected” plans. The insurance industry typically considers people enrolled once they have made their first premium payment.
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told a local news station at the end of March that between 80% and 90% of enrollees had likely made their premium payments.
The initial projections for the ACA enrollment pool, distributed by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, were to have 7 million people enrolled in year one. These numbers were revised down to 6 million by the CBO after the rocky rollout of the federal exchange in October.
Thursday’s release also reported 3 million young people were able to gain coverage by being able to stay on their parents’ plans, under the provision allowing them to do so until age 26. In addition, 5 million people are enrolled in plans that meet ACA standards outside the marketplace, according to the CBO.
The ACA mandates that every insurance plan cover 10 essential health benefits, including ambulatory services and prescription drug costs. More than 6 million people have had their previous plans cancelled nationwide for not including these benefits.
“We have a sizeable part of the U.S. population now for the first time in many cases in a position to enjoy the financial benefits of health insurance,” Obama said at the press conference.