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Most observers expected a lull after the December rush in Obamacare enrollments to meet the first deadline. But that hasn't been the case in a number of states, which report that the high pace of enrollments has continued in the first few weeks of 2014.
The Washington Health Benefit Exchange has had about 8,000 enrollments in private health plans since late December, bringing the total to just over 73,000. "We doubled our call-center staff in December" to handle the end-of-year surge, said Richard K. Onizuka, chief executive of the exchange, in a conference call arranged by the nonprofit healthcare advocacy group Families USA. "And now we're almost doubling it again." [...]
Kentucky, whose Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear has been an enthusiastic supporter of Obama's Affordable Care Act, has been logging about 2,000 simultaneous users on its website in January, said Carrie Banahan, executive director of the Kentucky Health Benefit Exchange. That compares with 600 before the December surge, when "Kynect" topped 33,000 enrollments in private health insurance. Banahan did not release January enrollment figures.
New York is enrolling as many as 7,000 people per day this month, and California reports "a tremendous amount of interest," though the state didn't provide updated numbers in that call. Six states which are using the federal exchange—North Carolina, Michigan, Wisconsin, Idaho, New Hampshire and Maine—are currently ahead of their target enrollments. That's notable in part because none of the states has yet implemented the Medicaid expansion. Medicaid enrollments have accounted for a big chunk of enrollments in other states.
Furthermore, the pace of enrollments for the ACA is faster than it was for Medicare Part D, the last big federal health care expansion effort under the Bush administration. That's according to research done by House Democrats on the Energy and Commerce Committee. But if you really need convincing that, despite the completely botched early rollout of the exchanges, participation is hitting targets there's this: The insurance companies aren't just not panicking, they think everything's going to be fine with the new law.
So House Speaker John Boehner might have to rethink his whole strategy of "sit back and bet on Obamacare collapsing under its own weight.”
You can always keep track of enrollment numbers with Brainwrap. Here's his update for Thursday.
Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 10:39 AM PST.