More than 6 million enrolled in Obamacare

The White House announced on Thursday that more than 6 million Americans have enrolled in health care plans through “Obamacare,” a number that is shy of the administration’s initial goal of 7 million for 2014, but shows huge progress from October, when a balky website seemed like it could endanger the entire program.

The Congressional Budget Office had suggested a few weeks ago that 6 million was a realistic goal for 2014, and the administration and liberals groups have aggressively tried to reach that number, deploying people all over the country to help sign Americans up for the law, as well as enlisting the help of celebrities Lebron James and Shane Battier.

That goal has been reached, with more than 1 million enrolling since March 1 alone:

Month by month Obamacare enrollment numbers:
Oct: +106K
Nov (thru Nov 30): +259K (365K total)
Dec (thru Dec 28): +1.8M (2.2M total)
Jan (thru Feb 1): +1.15M (3.3M total)
Feb (thru March 1): +942K (4.2M total)
As of March 27: +1.8M (6M total and counting)

It’s not yet clear how many of those Americans are between the ages of 18 and 34, a key metric, as the administration wants some young and health people to enroll to keep insurance prices down.

The administration has also not said how many of the 6 million did not have health insurance in 2013, as some people signed up for the health care law because their existing plans were canceled.

It’s also likely some of the 6 million have not yet paid their first month’s bill for insurance, which is the final step to getting coverage.

But the 6 million number may actually underestimate how many Americans have gotten insurance through Obamacare, as it does not include people who have enrolled through Medicaid, bought their coverage directly from an insurance company as opposed to through the “marketplaces” set up under the law or gotten insurance on their parents’ plan if they are between ages 18 and 26.

Health care experts say these numbers demonstrate a strong desire from Americans for insurance.

Drew Altman, president of the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation, said it’s now important to determine if people like the coverage they get under the law and actually use it to improve their health. Critics of Obamacare have accurately noted that many of the plans require high out-of-pocket costs from consumers before the insurance company starts paying and have narrow networks that may limit the number of doctors people can see.

“What really matters for people is what happens at the state level and the local level in terms of their coverage and their premiums and if they think their coverage is a good deal,” Altman said.