enrollment hits 2.4M

More than 1 million people signed up for Obamacare plans on in the week leading up to a key deadline, pushing total enrollment on that federal insurance exchange up to 2.4 million, officials announced Tuesday.

The data was released a day after Monday’s deadline on for signing up for health insurance plans that take effect Jan. 1. sells health insurance in the 37 states not operating their own insurance marketplace.

Officials said that from Dec. 6 through last Friday, a total of 1.08 million people signed up for individual plans sold on the federal exchange. For a person to be officially enrolled in a plan, they must make their first month’s premium payments.

Open enrollment in Obamacare plans began Nov. 15, and is scheduled to end Feb. 15. That gives officials just four full months to sign up millions of new customers, as opposed to the more than six months they had during Obamacare’s first-even open-enrollment season, which ended in mid-April.

Before enrollment began, there were about 6.7 million paying customers of Obamcare plans

The Health and Human Services Department has projected that about 9.1 million people nationally will be covered by Obamacare exchange-sold plans by the end of 2015. That is significantly lower than what then non-partisan Congressional Budget Office had projected for that year.

On Tuesday, the Avalere Health consultancy issued a new projection, saying that it believed that total enrollment will reach 10.5 million people by the end of next year.

However, Avalere Health hedged its projection a big saying, “enrollment could fluctuate up or down by approximately 1 million individuals.”

“Based on the initial pace ofsign-ups in the first three weeks of open enrollment, Avalere estimates that new enrollment by February 15 is likely to be between 4.5 and 6 million individuals,” the company said. “However, based on the 2014 exchange experience, about 16 percent of these individuals may drop out of coverage by the end of the year—either by failing to pay premiums or electing to disenroll. Furthermore, it is unclear what portion of 2014 enrollees will re-enroll in plans for 2015.

Dan Mendelson, CEO of Avalere, said, “Growth in 2015 enrollment is helping to solidify the exchanges as a viable commercial market for health plans and consumers.

“There are still millions of low-income people who will benefit from federal subsidies — an important incentive to drive growth provided they have the information to make informed decisions,” Mendelson said.

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