- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Roughly 1.6 million people have selected coverage on HealthCare.gov, the Obama administration said Wednesday in a snapshot of enrollment through the first three weeks of signups for the 2016 plan year.

About a third of them, or half a million, were new customers, while the rest were existing customers who wanted to keep getting covered through the federal website that covers 38 states without their own insurance exchanges under the Affordable Care Act.

The customers will have to pay their first month’s premiums to effectuate coverage and be counted as actual enrollees on the exchange, where customers who don’t have Medicare or Medicaid or get insurance through their work can shop for coverage and qualify for government subsidies.

“We are three weeks into open enrollment, and we continue to see demand for the quality, affordable health coverage available through the marketplace,” HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathew Burwell said.

“This Thanksgiving holiday, I encourage families to talk about the importance of getting covered and to visit HealthCare.gov to find the coverage that fits their health needs and their budgets,” she added.

Now in its third year, this round of Obamacare signups began Nov. 1 and lasts through Jan. 31.

Last week, the administration said 1,077,876 enrollees had picked a plan for the first time or renewed coverage they already had through the federal website. Through Saturday, that number had jumped to 1,645,698.

The government estimates that just 10 million Americans will sign up for plans on the health care exchanges for next year, a small increase over the 9 million-plus enrollees it attracted for 2015 and far short of the 21 million that budget analysts initially projected.

President Obama has said it will be harder than ever to find people who haven’t signed up during the first two years, and that reaching them is critical to making his signature law succeed.

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