The numbers are in. The federal government has released state-by-state tallies of the people who’ve shopped for — and selected — health insurance through the Obamacare marketplaces during the first month of open enrollment.
In Pennsylvania, 2,207 people have signed up for coverage. The number is 741 in New Jersey, and 97 in Delaware.
Those tallies include plan selections achieved by phone, online and by mail. It’s not clear how many came through the glitch-plagued healthcare.gov website.
The administration also reported the number of shoppers who actually completed insurance applications. Across all states, the number of insurance applications completed was much higher than the number who actually picked a plan.
U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said she expects to covert more shoppers to buyers soon.
“People tend to research and consider their options, talk things over with their families before making a purchase,” Sebelius said.
Sebelius continued her optimistic drumbeat, and said Americans are “interested” and “enrolling.”
But critics say the numbers reported by Sebelius on those who’ve “selected” a plan do not equal enrollment. They say a better gauge of enrollment will come once people have to actually pay for the plan they’ve selected. The payment deadline is Dec. 15.
Julie Bataille, director of the Office of Communications for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, said fixes to the healthcare.gov site are under way, and she promised a smoother experience for online users by the end of this month.
“Users will be able to move faster through the system, see fewer error messages, experience less timeouts and be able to complete their application and enrollment in one sitting if they choose to do so,” Bataille said.
The Web site’s error rate was less than 1 percent on Wednesday, she said.
“That work includes working with community organizations on the ground,” and making sure consumers can speak to someone who speaks their language, Sebelius said.
More than 70,000 consumers have called the exchange’s Spanish-language help line so far.
Obama officials did not offer more details of the demographics of the marketplace shoppers, saying the report is a “snapshot.”
“We’re still missing some data,” Sebelius told reporters.
The administration’s announcement did not quiet critics of the Affordable Care Act.
In Pennsylvania, Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey said the low enrollment numbers are more evidence that the health law is a “train wreck.”
“The faulty website is only the tip of the iceberg,” Toomey said in a statement.
“It’s not technical glitches that will doom this system, it is the fact that the president’s health care law forces people to buy overpriced health plans they don’t want, hikes taxes, and puts important, personal health care decisions in the hands of politicians and bureaucrats instead of patients and their doctors.”