The deadline for Americans to sign up for the health insurance exchanges ahead of the date by which they would have been hit by a fine for not doing so has now come and gone, but it seems that millions of people made the effort to get in under the wire, fulfilling goals set by the Obama administration.
While official numbers haven't been released yet, and probably won't come out for another few days at least, it's believed that the number of people to sign up before the midnight deadline on March 31 was going to reach as high as 7 million Americans, according to a report from USA Today. That was the goal originally set by the Obama administration, which many experts had said was no longer all that realistic simply because of all the issues that many Americans faced in signing up for the Healthcare.gov exchange website in the first few months after it opened.
Effectively, that brings the number of people to sign up in the week before the deadline to about 1 million, as President Barack Obama announced roughly a week prior that the administration recently celebrated the milestone of reaching 6 million enrollees, the report said. This final push came despite the demand being so great that many users once again experienced significant glitches when trying to use the site, which went down for a period of four hours on Monday. However, by 8 p.m. on the East Coast, still hours before the deadline, more than 2 million people had visited the site, and another million had likewise called the federal hotline for signing up.
Demand high on local level as well
Meanwhile, many entities that were serving as health insurance "navigators" in conjunction with the federal government noted that they were hit with an inundation of interest in the last few days as well. Liz Lee, community impact director for United Way, from her office in Cocoa, Fla., told the newspaper that her office has been booked with back-to-back appointments for the past two weeks, and that the number of enrollees was overwhelming.
This is likely to be great news for health insurers, as more people enrolling in the exchanges will better allow them to distribute risk across their client base and potentially shore up some potential areas of concern that would have cropped up if the White House had failed to reach its sign-up goals.