Local/State

Obamacare signups very low

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

As expected, numbers released by the White House Wednesday show a very low number of Americans enrolled in the first month of the new Obamacare insurance exchanges.

Just 26,794 Americans selected a plan through the federal HealthCare.gov in October, and may or may not have paid their first premium.

North Carolina's fraction of that was 1,662.

The Affordable Health Care site has been plagued by technical problems since its October 1 launch, but administration officials say the issues are slowly being worked out. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says she expects things to improve.

Signups on state-based exchanges created under the law fared a little better. Just 79,391 people selected plans in those state marketplaces.

In total, the administration says 106,185 Americans selected a qualified health plan through state and federal marketplaces in October.

Insurance companies only consider people "enrolled" if they have paid their first month premium. Those premiums aren't due for several more weeks. So technically, people can still switch or cancel their plans.

The numbers released Wednesday are roughly a fifth of the projected target of 500,000 Americans that the administration had expected would sign up in October, according to an internal Sept. 5 Health and Human Services memo obtained by AP and confirmed by ABC News.

Republicans are also taking aim at Obamacare in North Carolina for the number of private insurance plans that have been cancelled because they don't meet the minimum standards required under the new healthcare law.

The Associated Press reported earlier this month that 160,000 North Carolinians have received cancellation notices.  Blue Cross Blue Shield confirmed to ABC11 Wednesday that it has sent out 150,000 notices.

The White House fired back at NC Republicans Wednesday, tweeting: "The NC GOP is preventing nearly 400,000 people from getting health coverage through #Obamacare. It's time to put #PeopleOverPolitics." - referring to the McCrory administration's decision not to expand Medicaid rolls under Obamacare even though the federal government will pick up the entire tab for the first three years, and 90 percent following that.

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