Thursday, February 22 2018

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Obamacare sign-ups hit 4.2 million

Update: March, 12/2014 - 11:00

WASHINGTON – A further 940,000 Americans registered for President Barack Obama's health care plans in February, bringing to 4.2 million the number of people who have signed up so far, officials have said.

The White House also geared up for what it said would be a "surge of enrollment" for the system, now that a malfunctioning website that hampered the law's rollout has been fixed, before a March 31 sign-up deadline.

"As more Americans are learning just how affordable marketplace plans can be, more are signing up to get coverage," said Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Tuesday.

The new figures were unveiled on a day that comedy website "Funny or Die" debuted a new online video of the president braving the satirical jabs of comedian Zach Galifianakis, to market the plan to the site's young fans.

For the system to work, Obamacare must attract young, healthy registrants who do not make claims for big budget care in order to subsidize older, sicker patients who have also signed up.

The administration said 25 per cent of those who signed up in February were aged between 18 and 34.

Officials believe that many more younger patients will be spurred to sign up before the deadline.

Americans who do not have health insurance by the end of the month are liable for fines under the new law, which is the centerpiece of Obama's domestic legacy and gets the United States closer to universal health care coverage than ever before.

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office last month revised down its projected enrollment figures at the end of the six-month sign up period to six million from seven million.

Even that figure however may be now out or reach.

Officials declined to say whether they expected to reach the six million mark. They also were unable to provide figures for the number of Americans who have paid for plans once enrolled and also could not provide a figure for the number of people who have signed up for coverage who previously had health care. The latter figure will be crucial in establishing whether Obamacare, which inflicted a heavy political price on the administration, has actually achieved its goal of offering affordable healthcare to all Americans. — AFP

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