(Bloomberg) — More than half a million people selected Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) exchange plans through the HealthCare.gov public exchange enrollment system during the first week that the public exchanges were open, in what is projected to be a challenging year of trying to reach new people who haven’t yet gotten insurance under the law.
HealthCare.gov opened for business on Sunday, Nov. 1. From Nov. 1 through Nov. 7, 543,098 people picked plans through the website. Last year, when HealthCare.gov opened for business on Nov. 15, about 462,000 people signed up for coverage during the first week of enrollment. The new first-week total is 17 percent higher than the total for the first week of 2014.
The numbers aren’t perfectly comparable to the 2014 numbers, because Hawaii is now using HealthCare.gov for enrollment rather than its own state-based enrollment system.
In a blog post, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), called the sign-up figures “a solid start.” The deadline to sign up for policies that take effect on Jan. 1 is Dec. 15, and the last day to pick a 2016 policy is Jan. 31.
About two-thirds of those who selected a plan for 20216 already had 2015 exchange plan coverage, while the rest were new to the exchanges, said the government, which plans to release weekly sign-up tallies this year.