WASHINGTON – In the clearest sign yet that the federal health insurance website is vastly improved, about 29,000 people enrolled in insurance plans in the first two days of this week, exceeding the number of enrollments on the site in all of October, according to a source familiar with the data.
The 29,000 figure tallies the number of people able to select health plans Sunday and Monday, the 48-hour window after the administration's deadline for making major repairs to the HealthCare.gov website.
That result is an encouraging sign for administration officials, who claimed over the weekend that they successfully met their goal of getting the troubled shopping portal running smoothly for the vast majority of users by the end of November. Officials said the website was loading faster, handling more users and experiencing fewer errors. But until now, enrollment data backing up those claims had not yet been made public.
The 29,000 estimate, first reported by Politico, does not include people who enrolled through state-run marketplaces, the source said. In all of October, just 26,000 people enrolled on the federal exchange. The administration hopes to sign up 7 million people by the end of the enrollment period on March 31.
The data represent the number of people who have selected a plan, not necessarily those who have completed the process by paying insurers. That last step still remains a challenge for the administration.
Although the consumer-facing website is functioning better, a tech team continues to build and repair the "back end" of the system that handles payments. Officials have said they will have that portion of the site running in time to accept payments in time for the Jan. 1 deadline.
Despite the surge in enrollment, insurance industry officials also remain deeply concerned that the consumer information the site is sending insurers is still not reliable.
Administration officials have claimed in recent days that they have fixed software bugs responsible for the transmission of erroneous consumer data. But the administration has declined to provide any information about error rates, making it impossible to validate these claims.
(Noam N. Levey of the Tribune Washington Bureau contributed to this report.)
(c)2013 Tribune Co.
Visit Tribune Co. at www.latimes.com