Obamacare on Pace to Hit Sign-Up Goal
Policy + Politics

Obamacare on Pace to Hit Sign-Up Goal

Compared to last year, it’s shaping up to be a pretty successful 2015 for Obamacare.

So far, more than 7.1 million people have signed up for coverage through the federal exchange since Friday, and an estimated 1.1 million have enrolled through state exchanges through January 16th.

That puts the administration on target to reach its goal of signing up more than 9.1 million people on the in 2015. Just last week alone, more than 400,000 people submitted applications for coverage through the federal exchange.

Related: Americans Rank Health Care Costs as Top Financial Burden

Of course, this only accounts for how many people have selected plans on the exchanges. It does not include the number of people who have paid their premiums. That number is expected to be slightly lower.

Charles Gaba who has been tracking Obamacare sign-ups since the exchanges launched last year says that at least 33 states have reached the administration’s enrollment targets. To date, there are about 30 percent more enrollees, nationally, than the total amount that signed up last year. Of course, enrollment patterns vary widely from state to state.

Related: Republican Voters Split Over Repealing Obamacare

Gaba and others suspect that health officials purposely lowballed their expectations after last year when everyone was assessing the law’s success on whether enrollment met the Congressional Budget Office’s 7 million sign-up projection.

“Of course, as I and other ACA reporters have noted, the HHS Dept. was almost certainly lowballing their target this year, after all the fuss made last year over the CBO's "7 Million" number, which took on an almost mystical quality,” Gaba said in a blog post.

The new numbers are good news for the Obama administration, which will likely use them as ammo in the ongoing battle with Republicans over the law’s entire existence.

Related: Obama Renews Health Care Fight with Republicans

GOP lawmakers, empowered by their new majority control in Congress, have revived their war on Obamacare. And while some, including Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, have called for the law’s repeal, others like Senate Finance Chair Orin Hatch are waiting to see if the Supreme Court will do their work for them by ruling against the administration in King v. Burwell.

That case is the biggest threat right now to the president’s health care law. It challenges the law’s vague language and whether it intended to provide subsidies to all Obamacare enrollees or exclusively to those enrolled in the state exchanges.

If the court rules against the administration, nearly 5 million people will lose their subsidies, and potentially their coverage creating a ripple effect that threatens to undue the entire law. If that happens, Republicans see an opening to potentially pass their own Obamacare alternatives. The court is expected to announce its decision in June, until then, millions of Obamacare enrollees hang in the balance.

This story was updated on Friday at 10:25 a.m.

Top Reads From The Fiscal Times: