Breaking News Emails
The emails are landing several times a day now.
“Three days left: Time is running out,” the latest one reads. They’re arriving in the e-mail inboxes of people who registered in 2013 on the then-doomed Healthcare.gov website.
Now the site is running smoothly for the second year that people can buy health insurance through online exchanges, and the Obama administration is making a last-ditch push to get as many people signed up as possible before the Feb. 15 deadline. After that, only people with a major life change that changes their insurance coverage, such as a job loss, will be able to enroll.
"The enrollment experience between this year and last year is pretty dramatic," Kevin Counihan, chief executive for the exchanges, told reporters.
The emails are unabashedly upbeat and promotional — not the tone people have ever seen in the past from the federal government and certainly not in communications regarding health insurance.
"The enrollment experience between this year and last year is pretty dramatic."
“Take the next step and submit your application today. It’s easier than ever to apply this year — you can even do it on your mobile device,” the emails read. “Over 9.9 million people have already signed up, and 8 out of 10 people who enroll save money on their monthly premiums.”
Final numbers show that just about 7 million people signed up for health insurance on the exchanges for 2014. But many more gained health insurance, both through expansion of Medicaid in the two dozen states that agreed to make the government insurance plan more widely available, and through legal changes that put limits on who can be turned away by health insurers.
Gallup calculated that the number of people without any health insurance fell from 17 percent of the U.S. population at the end of 2013 to 12.9 percent at the end of 2014.
Administration officials say 7.75 million have signed up in the 37 states that use the federal HealthCare.gov exchange. The rest of the signups are in the states running their own exchanges, including populous California and New York. The administration has projected 9.1 million signups by Feb. 15.
There’s a little extra urgency because this is the first year that Americans will have to worry about health insurance at tax time. The 2010 Affordable Care Act requires that just about everyone have health insurance or else pay a fee in the form of some extra income tax.
Federal officials predict that 2 to 4 percent of taxpayers will end up paying a fine because they didn't have health insurance last year, and they don’t want people to have to pay again next year because they missed the deadline to sign up this year.
Health insurance companies demanded this provision, saying if people were not required to have health insurance, they’d just wait until they were sick to sign up. And the law now forbid health insurers to turn away customers because of pre-existing conditions.
Republicans in Congress continue to vote to repeal the 2010 Affordable Care Act that created what's widely known as Obamacare. But there aren't enough votes in the Senate to pass a repeal or to override President Obama's certain veto.