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HHS: More than 7 million have chosen PPACA plans

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(Bloomberg) – More than 7 million consumers have selected Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) “qualified health plan” (QHP) coverage through the public exchanges, according to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.

The 7.04 million total includes people who completed signing up for QHPs through the 37 exchanges run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as of midnight yesterday.

The total also includes people who signed up for QHPs through the state-based exchanges by midnight Sunday.

The total does not include people who signed up for QHPs through the state-based exchanges Monday, and it does not include people who had applications in progress at either the HHS exchanges or the state-based exchanges by midnight yesterday.

“It’s fair to say we surpassed everyone’s expectations,” Carney said at a White House briefing today.

HHS says it lacks complete information on who has paid for coverage. It uses whether consumers have selected QHPs, not paid enrollment figures, as the enrollment activity indicator.

The official PPACA open enrollment period for individual QHPs, or commercial exchange plans, started Oct. 1 in most of the country and officially ended yesterday in most of the country.

HHS has given Oregon permission to extend open enrollment for everyone until April, and consumers in much of the country can have until April 15 to complete the enrollment process if they simply say they tried to apply before March 31 but were unable to do so because of exchange enrollment system problems or problems with filling out the forms.

The enrollment period deadline does not apply to group exchange plans or to Medicaid.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predicted before the open enrollment period started that 2014 QHP enrollment could reach 7 million. In February, the CBO cut projected enrollment to 6 million., the HHS exchange enrollment website, recorded 4.8 million visits yesterday.

That beat the previous high, 1.8 million, which was recorded Dec. 23.

–With assistance from Alex Wayne in Washington.

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