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3 million people now signed up for Obamacare, feds say

Three million people have signed up for private health insurance on the federal and state health insurance exchanges, the Obama administration said Friday.

That’s almost a million more than the last estimate, made for signups through the end of December, and the administration says the numbers show people are keen to get insurance on the exchanges, despite the political debate about the issue.

What’s not clear is how many of the people signing up lacked insurance before. One of the main goals of the 2010 Affordable Care Act was to get coverage to the 45 million Americans who lack it, but some data suggests that many of those signing up are switching from other types of coverage.

What’s also not clear is whether people with expensive conditions are signing up in greater numbers than healthy people. For the marketplaces to work well, insurers will need a good balance of healthier people — and that generally means younger people — versus those with conditions who will need pricey medical care right away.

“With millions transitioning to new coverage already, we continue to see strong interest nationwide from consumers who want access to quality, affordable coverage," Marilyn Tavenner, who heads the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, wrote in a blog post

"As our outreach efforts kick into even higher gear, we anticipate these numbers will continue to grow, particularly as we reach even more uninsured young adults so that they know that new options and new ways to help eligible individuals pay for their premium are now available, thanks to the Affordable Care Act.”

The White House and allied groups such as Enroll America are stepping up advertising and other outreach efforts to get people to sign up, now that most of the exchange websites are working well after a rocky start.

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