Dec. 11—The Obama administration reached 31 percent of its enrollment targets for the new insurance marketplaces by the end of November. 

The federal and state-run marketplaces, or exchanges, created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) enrolled 365,000 in private insurance plans through the end of November; the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) had projected that 1.2 million people would be enrolled by the end of the first two months after the Oct. 1 launch.  The enrollment rate in November was higher than in October, when totals reached just 20 percent of the federal marketplace enrollment target.

Although the administration recently has downplayed the significance of falling short of the 7 million enrollee target, some hospital officials have warned a large shortfall could leave those facilities vulnerable to deeper cuts in their federal disproportionate share hospital payments. 

The continuing lackluster enrollment was blamed on longstanding problems at the federal and some state-operated websites. Much of the enrollment in the first two months was driven by the 14 states operating their own exchanges. Only 137,000, or 38 percent, of private plan enrollees gained coverage in the 36 states where the federal government is running the exchange.

 The federal enrollment website was relaunched Dec. 1 and garnered 29,000 enrollments in the first two days of December, but the pace still falls far short of the 7 million sign-ups that were projected to occur by the time open enrollment ends March 30. 

An additional 803,077 were applicants were found eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) by the end of November.

“Evidence of the technical improvements to HealthCare.gov can be seen in the enrollment numbers,” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a release.

Not all state enrollment data was available for inclusion in the latest enrollment release, HHS officials said.

Meanwhile, insurers have warned that policies will not go into effect until payments are received, and few enrollees have submitted payments, so far.

The myriad and ongoing problems with the federal enrollment website led Sebelius Wednesday to ask for an investigation by the Office of Inspector General.

“We need a thorough review of the contractor performance and program management structure that resulted in the flawed launch of the website,” Sebelius wrote in a blog post.

The OIG will review the acquisition process, overall program management, and contractor performance and payment issues related to the development and management of healthcare.gov.

Publication Date: Wednesday, December 11, 2013