White House Releases Health Care Enrollment Numbers

The report shows that 106,185 people have successfully chosen health insurance plans.

Posted: 11/13/2013 03:34 PM EST

The Obama administration released a highly anticipated report detailing enrollment figures for the Affordable Care Act, nearly six weeks after a disappointing rollout plagued by technical issues.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, between Oct. 1 and Nov. 2, 106,185 individuals have selected plans from a health insurance marketplace. But, of that figure, only 26,794 enrolled through the federally run marketplace at healthcare.gov.

The report also states that 975,407 people have completed the application process and have received an eligibility determination, but haven't yet selected a plan. In addition, 396,261 people have been determined to be eligible for coverage through Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program.

"The promise of quality, affordable coverage is increasingly becoming a reality for this first wave of applicants to the health insurance marketplaces. There is no doubt the level of interest is strong," said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in a news release that accompanied the report. "We expect enrollment will grow substantially throughout the next five months, mirroring the pattern that Massachusetts experienced."

She added that the numbers also "will grow" as healthcare.gov's technology-related flaws are corrected.

Critics seized the opportunity to use the low enrollment numbers to reiterate previous denouncements of the health care law. House Speaker John Boehner said they are yet another reason Americans should be allowed to keep the health care plans they currently have and like.

"Above all, this report is a symbol of the failure of the president’s health care law. It is a rolling calamity that must be scrapped," he said in a written statement.

President Obama's Democratic allies also were disappointed by the figures but not surprised.

Upon hearing that 106,000 had signed up, Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Marcia Fudge exclaimed, "That many? With all the problems I've been hearing about, that's good! I am excited. With all of the issues, I expected them to be lower than that so I'm excited."

But when that number was broken down, she expressed disappointment in how few people had signed up through the federal exchange but was not surprised.

"Everyone knew it was a mess," Fudge told reporters.

Several legislative options to fix the problems are making the rounds on Capitol Hill, but according to Fudge, who like Boehner thinks that consumers should be able to keep plans they have and like, says it's up to Obama to provide the fix.

"The president said he erred, he needs to fix it," she said. "He's the one who created the problem."

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(Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

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