Obamacare Clears 7 Million Sign-Ups

Two Atlanta residents fill out HealthCare.Gov applications at the Atlanta Medical Center South Campus Monday.

Two Atlanta residents fill out HealthCare.Gov applications at the Atlanta Medical Center South Campus Monday. David Goldman/AP

A last-minute surge gives the White House a major victory.

More than 7 million people have signed up for health insurance through Obamacare's exchanges, thanks to a surge during Monday's enrollment deadline, the White House confirmed.

"I think it would be fair to say we surpassed everyone's expectations," Press Secretary Jay Carney said during Tuesday's press briefing.

Clearing 7 million sign-ups is a big political victory for the White House—and the total will continue to grow before official enrollment numbers are released later this month. The 7 million figure does not include people who enrolled Monday through state-based exchanges, Carney said, and people who were "in line" for the federal exchange by midnight will be allowed to complete the enrollment process.

The Health and Human Services Department said Tuesday it does not yet know how many people are still in line. HealthCare.gov experienced technical glitches Monday as it grappled with record traffic. Still, roughly 200,000 people signed up through the website Monday alone, Carney said.

Before the disastrous HealthCare.gov launch, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the exchanges would cover 7 million people this year. It downgraded that to 6 million to account for the website's troubles. And throughout, Republicans predicted that enrollment would fall short of either expectation.

The number of people covered through the exchanges will be somewhat lower than the final 7 million-plus sign-up figure. Some percentage of people who sign up for a policy do not go on to pay their first month's premium—the final step to actually obtaining coverage.

It's also not clear how many enrollees were previously uninsured, which is a key measure of the Affordable Care Act's success in reducing the number of uninsured Americans.

At the end of February, young adults made up about 25 percent of sign-ups, but that number was always expected to improve in March, thanks to the enrollment deadline. Getting young, healthy people into the system is critical to offsetting the costs of guaranteeing coverage to people with preexisting conditions.