The Obama administration reported Wednesday that slightly more than 106,000 people were able to enroll in new health insurance plans during the first month of the troubled Internet marketplace under the new health care law.
About 27,000 of those sign-ups came from 36 states where the federal government is running the health insurance exchange, which has been beset with technical difficulties. The remaining 79,000 came through the 15 marketplaces run by states and the District of Columbia.
The numbers represent a fraction of the half-million health-plan enrollees that the administration initially projected, before the HealthCare.gov website's rocky rollout Oct. 1 thwarted many shoppers' attempts to sign up for insurance. Budget forecasters previously said that 7 million people would sign up during the open enrollment period, which runs until March 31.
"The marketplace is working; people are enrolling," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told reporters. "The promise of affordable health care coverage is increasingly becoming a reality to more and more Americans."
Faced with demands from GOP lawmakers over the last several weeks to release the enrollment figures, administration officials had pledged to issue them by mid-November, while warning that the number of enrollees would be low.
The figures were released amid recriminations over President Barack Obama's signature domestic initiative, the 2010 health care law officially called the Affordable Care Act but widely known as Obamacare.
At a House committee hearing Wednesday, administration technology officials denied that political reasons influenced decisions on the scope of last month's rollout of the website, as they sparred with GOP lawmakers who oppose the health care law.
For Oct. 1 to Nov. 2, Sebelius said 106,185 people "have selected plans from the marketplace." She said 975,407 others "have made it through the process by applying and receiving an eligibility determination, but have not yet selected a plan." An additional 396,261 have been deemed eligible for Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program, she said.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement: "While the Obama White House is sure to blame the poor enrollment numbers on the many unacceptable tech glitches that have frustrated Americans, I maintain that the larger reason Obamacare has failed is because it was conceived based on a lie that Americans could keep their health care plans and has failed to address our number one health care problem in America: soaring costs."
Affordale Care Act signups
The following shows the number of people who have enrolled from Oct. 1 to Nov. 2 for health care coverage in the new insurance marketplaces:
Total number: 106,185
Total from state-run websites: 79,391
Total from the federal website: 26,794
Top 5 states by enrollees
New York: 16,404
Source: Department of Health and Human Services