Enrollment surges in federal insurance exchanges

More than one million people have signed up for coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

More than one million people have signed up for coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
More than one million people have signed up for coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

HealthDay News -- More than 1.1 million people enrolled in a qualified health plan through the federally operated health insurance marketplace, or exchange, from Oct. 1 through Dec. 24, government officials are reporting.

More than 975,000 of those enrollments came in December, Marilyn Tavenner, administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, said in a blog post.

The announcement made no mention of the 14 exchanges that are run by states, independent of the federal website, as part of the Affordable Care Act, the Obama Administration's massive overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system. Some states -- such as California, Connecticut, New York, and Washington -- have said their websites are operating well, while other states have encountered problems. It's also not clear how many of the new enrollees are young adults.

The latest enrollment figures mark some rare positive news about the rollout of the insurance enrollment process. HealthCare.gov was plagued for weeks with computer glitches that frustrated consumers who weren't able to sign up for coverage.

As recently as Tuesday, Dec. 24, the Obama Administration once again extended the deadline for people to register for health insurance coverage on HealthCare.gov. The extension followed a 24-hour "grace period" that was granted on Monday, Dec. 23 -- beyond the original enrollment deadline of Monday, Dec. 23 at 11:59 p.m. -- for benefits that would take effect Jan. 1. In most states, Monday, Dec. 23 had been the deadline for selecting a plan that would take effect on the first day of the new year.

Under the Affordable Care Act, most adults will pay a $95 penalty -- or 1% of income -- in 2014 if they don't have health insurance coverage. The penalty rises to $695 -- or 2% of income -- by 2016. To avoid the penalty, people must enroll in a plan by Feb. 15 or qualify for an exemption from the penalty.

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