NEW YORK (CNNMoney)
Some 106,185 people signed up for Obamacare in its first month of operation, a period marred by major technological problems with both the federal and state enrollment websites.
Fewer than 27,000 Americans selected an insurance plan through the federal healthcare.gov site, which is handling enrollment for 36 states, according to figures released Wednesday by the Obama administration. The site is still far from fully operational, leaving tech experts racing to get it working by month's end, as the administration promised.
Nearly 79,400 people signed up for coverage through state-based exchanges, with California leading the way with nearly 35,400 selecting a plan. States have also been battling system errors, with Oregon having yet to accept online applications.
These figures reflect people who have selected insurance plans through the exchanges, but not necessarily paid for them. Americans have until Dec. 15 to pay if they want coverage to begin on Jan. 1. Open enrollment lasts through March 31.
In addition to the sign-ups, nearly 975,500 people have submitted applications and learned whether they are eligible for subsidies, but have not yet selected a plan.
Separately, another 396,261 Americans have been determined eligible for Medicaid or Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
The long-awaited initial figures are a far cry from the 7 million people the Congressional Budget Office projected would gain coverage through the exchanges in 2014. The administration has said it expects 800,000 people to pick a plan by the end of November.
The administration has been downplaying enrollment expectations as problems with the exchange sites continued to stymie visitors' attempts to create accounts and search for insurance plans. President Obama has pointed to the fact that only a hundred people signed up for coverage in Massachusetts in 2006 when health care was overhauled there, but thousands signed up by the end of that year.
"We expect enrollment will grow substantially throughout the next five months, mirroring the pattern that Massachusetts experienced," said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "We also expect that the numbers will grow as the website, healthcare.gov, continues to make steady improvements."