About 2.2 million people have signed up for health insurance as required by the Affordable Care Act via federal and state marketplaces through Dec. 28, according to a reportreleased by the Department of Health and Human Services Monday. And while the Obama administration is touting the new numbers as evidence of success following a rocky rollout of the Healthcare.gov website, Republicans say things are still off-track.
Total enrollment jumps to about six million when individuals who have received new insurance under expanded Medicaid programs are included, making it five times the number of people enrolled from October through November.
"Americans are finding quality affordable coverage in the marketplace, and best of all, because coverage began on New Year's Day, the promise and hope of the Affordable Care Act is now a reality," said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in a release.
In this third Obamacare report card, the government has for the first time shared demographic data, specifically the ages of customers. Nearly a quarter of the newly insured are less than 35 and roughly 25 percent are between the ages of 18 and 34.
The ratio of young-to-old customers has long been deemed important to the program's success as young people are generally considered more healthy, thus cheaper to insure. Insurance companies depend on a sizeable share of their base to be healthy in order to help pay for the costs of those who are not, and still make a profit.
Brendon Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, said that number is far below what's needed for success.
"There's no way to spin it: youth enrollment has been a bust so far," he said in a release. "When they see that Obamacare offers high costs for limited access to doctors – if the enrollment goes through at all – it's no surprise that young people aren't rushing to sign up."
But Nancy Delew, acting HHS deputy secretary for planning and evaluation, said she saw a similar pattern in the early months of Massachusetts' enrollment in its health exchange under former governor Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee for president, according to USA Today.
The new report also said 54 percent of customers for the marketplace are women. About 60 percent of customers chose a the second least expensive plan, or the silver plan, while 20 percent chose the cheapest option, the bronze plan, which also features the highest deductibles. Nearly 80 percent of the newly insured chose a plan that offered federal subsidies to help defray costs.
Individuals who are eligible for health insurance under Obamacare have until March 31 to enroll or incur a fine.