With two weeks left, Obamacare enrollment hits 5 million

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With two weeks before the March 31 enrollment deadline, Obamacare now has over 5 million participants, reports Kyle Cheney of Politico.

The surging numbers give hope to the White House, which hopes to have 6 million people enrolled by the end of the month.

A sluggish February, with less than 1 million enrollees, made the target of 6 million look out of reach, falling short of already lowered expectations on HealthCare.gov after the hard October rollout. The original estimate was 7 million Americans signing up by the end of March.

Buoyed by stronger numbers in March, the question now is if the Obama administration can keep the momentum going.

“The last several days have been the busiest since December, with the Call Center taking more than 198,000 calls on Thursday alone — the busiest day since December 23 — and more than 130,000 calls over the weekend,” says Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner, head of the agency overseeing Obamacare implementation. “Last week, HealthCare.gov saw more than 4 million visits — and an additional 1 million visits this weekend.”

An earlier surge was in late December, right up to the deadline for getting healthcare coverage by January 1. The recent boom comes as procrastinators hit the sign up cutoff date.

The most recent numbers do not specify how many new enrollees have started the final step in the process, paying for insurance premiums. Nor did the administration provide demographic information on the new people, such as age.

Either way, 5 million is a significant milestone, made even better by the fact that it does not include million who have signed up for expanded Medicaid in about half the states included in the Affordable Care Act.

One in five of the signups across the country have been in the Covered California exchange, Cheney writes, which just passed 1 million customers. That news followed the Obama administration’s announcement that 940,000 people signed up for healthcare coverage in February, making it 4.2 million people overall for the first five months.

Considering the initial tech failures, the figures represent substantial numbers, but not what the administration hoped.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.