(Bloomberg) — About 462,000 people signed up for 2015 public exchange plan coverage through the HealthCare.gov enrollment system in the first week the exchanges run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) were open for business, HHS said today.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) exchange program is now starting its second year.
HHS released the first of what it said would be weekly exchange program performance snapshots. Enrollment began Nov. 15 and ends Feb. 15. The HHS tally includes only people who signed up for coverage through the HHS-run exchanges. Fourteen states run their own exchange enrollment systems.
During the week beginning Nov. 15, 1 million people submitted applications to find out if they’re eligible for coverage. Of the 462,000 people who chose health insurance plans, 48 percent were new customers. The others were renewing the exchange plan coverage they already have.
“It’s still early, and we have a long way to go but we’re off to a solid start,” the U.S. health secretary, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, said during a conference call with reporters.
Last year, HealthCare.gov collapsed on its first day of business, and that poor performance was followed by months of delays and errors.
The enrollment system was rebuilt this year and put under new leadership. “We believe for the vast majority of consumers they’re having a faster, better, more intuitive experience,” said Andy Slavitt, the principal deputy administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which runs the website for HHS.
“There have been bumps,” Slavitt said. “Some of them were first-day issues such as consumers forgetting passwords or user names. Some of the issues are the kind of tuning adjustments that you make when you go into a live environment.”