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Federal Health Care Marketplace for 2015 Enrolls 6.4 million People

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The Obama administration announced that as of Tuesday, 6.4 million people have either chosen health insurance plans through the federal insurance marketplace or allowed their coverage to automatically re-enroll them. Coverage was renewed automatically for people who enrolled in 2014 and didn’t take any action to cancel their enrollment by Dec. 15.

Out of the 6.4 million people enrolled, 1.9 million were new customers, accounting for approximately 30% of the total. Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Mathews Burwell couldn’t give an exact number for how many people were automatically re-enrolled through her department, but she estimated 2.7 to 3 million.

This signifies a major increase in enrollment from last year, largely due to the automatic re-enrollment and a surge of interest right before the Dec. 15 deadline. New health care participants will receive coverage starting on Jan. 1. The participants who didn’t allow their plans to roll over had the choice to switch to a new plan or extend coverage.

Burwell called the flurry of enrollments an encouraging start, but admitted they still had a lot of work to do to change public opinion about the health care system. Though more customers are flocking to the inexpensive plans and many people who already enrolled returned to enroll again, public opinion remains sharply divided by federal health care, and those with negative opinions are still in a very slight majority.

However, it seems that the program is accomplishing what it set out to do. Since the current numbers don’t include California, New York and 11 other states, officials told the New York Times that they’re on track to hit their goal of 9.1 million enrollments by next year. The online marketplace seems to be working more smoothly this year, as well.

There are still a few snags to work out. For instance, health care providers who bill federal health care programs including Medicare and Medicaid will have more government-covered patients, so OIG screening for excluded individuals may have to become more thorough.

For now though, it seems like the healthcare system is on track to reach its own goals.

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