Wednesday, April 1st11.2°C
25757
24876

Health secretary Sebelius says 7.5 million people have applied for coverage under health law

WASHINGTON - Enrolment for the president's health care law has grown to 7.5 million Americans, the Obama administration announced Thursday, handing President Barack Obama and the Democrats bigger coverage numbers to tout in the face of election-year attacks.

Sign-ups for the law stood at 7.1 million last week, but people who had started signing up when the enrolment period closed March 31, or who had trouble signing up, were given extra time to finalize their applications. Four hundred thousand more have now done so, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in testimony before the Senate Finance Committee. Sebelius said she expects the figure to continue to grow.

The original number already exceeded expectations, a surprise success after a disastrous roll-out and welcome news for Democrats who've been forced to defend their support for the unpopular law derided by critics as "Obamacare." Democratic senators took turns Thursday praising the robust sign-up numbers.

"We now know millions of people who have directly benefited from the Affordable Care Act," said Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., while bemoaning that "we're still stuck in this repeal, not repeal mode, particularly in the House of Representatives, and that's not doing a service to the people of this country."

Indeed, the new figure seemed unlikely to tamp down Republican attacks over the law and its new requirement for Americans to carry insurance or face penalties. The GOP sees discontent over the law as a winning political issue heading into November midterm elections where Republicans are aiming to defend their control of the House and perhaps retake the Senate.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, questioned the administration's coverage figures, noting that it's not known how many of the people who've signed up have actually sealed the deal by paying their first month's premium, or how many already had health insurance before the law went into effect.

"So far, it appears that the administration is hoping that the public will ignore these important questions and only focus on the number of claimed enrollees," Hatch said.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association says that 80 per cent to 85 per cent of the people who had enrolled with Blues plans through the health insurance exchanges had paid their premiums as of Feb. 1, which would represent a significant reduction over the administration's raw numbers.

People who started signing up during open enrolment but didn't finish have until April 15 to finish signing up for coverage, while people who encountered any one of a number of problems that might have kept them from signing up are eligible for a so-called "special enrolment period" that would bring another 60 days to sign up.

The 7.5 million represents people who've sought insurance from private companies through new on-line marketplaces created by the law. The law also includes an expansion of Medicaid, and 3 million more Americans have obtained insurance that way, the administration has said.

People who are eligible for the law's Medicaid expansion can sign up at any time of the year, but with limited exceptions, insurance companies have stopped selling individual policies outside the new government-sponsored health care markets until the next open enrolment season, which starts Nov. 15.

___=

Associated Press writer Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar contributed to this report.

The Canadian Press


Read more Business News

25779


Recent Trending




Today's Market
S&P TSX14942.55+40.11
S&P CDNX681.32+1.25
DJIA17698.18-77.94
Nasdaq4880.23-20.66
S&P 5002059.69-8.20
CDN Dollar0.7929+0.0003
Gold1204.20+21.10
Oil49.55+1.95
Lumber278.90+5.90
Natural Gas2.60-0.04

 
Okanagan Companies
Pacific Safety0.12-0.01
Knighthawk0.010.00
QHR Technologies Inc1.55+0.07
Cantex0.03-0.01
Anavex Life Sciences0.23+0.02
Metalex Ventures0.045+0.005
Russel Metals24.83+0.79
Copper Mountain Mining1.19+0.03
Colorado Resources0.11-0.01
ReliaBrand Inc0.0036-0.0024
Sunrise Resources Ltd0.04-0.01
Mission Ready Services0.23-0.02
Decisive Dividend Corporation1.80+0.02

 





FEATURED Property
1997869Lot 1 Oyama Lake Road
10081163 bedrooms
$349,900
more details
image2image2image2
Click here to feature your property
Please wait... loading


Down payment

If you have less than 20% down payment, mortgage insurance is required through Canada Mortgage & Housing (CMHC), Genworth or Canada Guaranty. Homeowners no longer need the minimum 5% down payment ...


CRA Notice of Assessment

Many Canadians rush to file their taxes on time each year and don’t think about it until the next year. One of the most overlooked notices received from the CRA annually is the annual Notice of ...


Medical confidential?

If ICBC asks your doctor for your information you may wonder: Can ICBC ask my doctor for my medical information? Can ICBC request a medical report from my doctor without my consent? What is ICBC entit...

_








Member of BC Press Council


25692