health insurance exchange

Want to know how many people have signed up for private insurance under Obamacare? Like the health care law itself, the answer is complicated.

The Obama administration is tracking the number of plans purchased on HealthCare.gov and on the state exchanges, and this month reported that it had exceeded expectations by signing up 7.5 million people. In addition, federal officials have said that 3 million people have enrolled in Medicaid this year.

With this year's deadline to register for individual health insurance just a weekend away, much attention is being lavished on two numbers — the 6 million Americans who have signed up so far, and the percentage of those folks who are (or aren't) young.

But experts say the national numbers actually don't mean very much.

We're just five days away from the March 31 deadline to sign up for individual health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. For weeks, administration officials, including the president, have insisted that there would be no extensions to the scheduled end of the six-month open enrollment period.

But now there's some wiggle room. Let's review, shall we?

Start with the key question: Is Monday still the deadline?

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. The Obama administration announced yesterday that 5 million Americans have now enrolled in the Affordable Care Act, and that might be surprising news for some who tried to sign up and were met by major website problems early in the rollout. If you are not one of those 5 million, you still have about two weeks to sign up or figure out if you might be able to stay in a plan you already have.

With a bit more than a month left for people to sign up for health insurance plans set up under the Affordable Care Act, the federal website known as HealthCare.gov finally seems to be working smoothly — in 36 states.

But what's happening in the 14 states that are running their own exchanges?

We're heading into the home stretch to sign up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act this year. The open enrollment period ends March 31 for most people.

But there are exceptions. And they are the subject of many of our questions this month.

Now that the problems with the balky HealthCare.gov website are largely fixed, the Obama administration is finally feeling comfortable enough to launch some of the outreach it planned for last fall.

Its top target: young adults, specifically those between 18 and 35.

If you think buying health insurance under the Affordable Care Act has been complicated, just wait. Buying dental coverage on the health exchanges, it turns out, is even more confusing.

Dental coverage for children is one of the benefits that must be offered under the law. But, it turns out, a loophole in the law means that — in most states — families don't actually have to buy that coverage.

These rules are so confusing that they even tripped me up.

New Year's Day marked the halfway point to sign up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act for coverage this year.

And after a dismal start, things seem to be going a lot better on the HealthCare.gov website. Federal officials say more than 1 million people enrolled in coverage by the Christmas Eve deadline for coverage that began January 1.

Monday marks the first deadline to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Throughout the country, health care navigators are helping people with the enrollment process. In New Orleans, they're working hard to reach as many people as possible, spending time outside shopping malls, corner stores... even the airport.

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