Obamacare sign-ups rise to 1 million as pace picks up before deadline

FILE PHOTO: A sign on an insurance store advertises Obamacare in San Ysidro, San Diego, California, U.S., October 26, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The number of consumers who signed up for 2018 Obamacare health insurance next year surpassed the 1 million mark in the second-to-last week of enrollment on the federally-run HealthCare.gov website, picking up the pace ahead of the Dec. 15 deadline.

Through Dec. 9, 4.68 million consumers signed up for the insurance in the 39 states that use the federally run HealthCare.gov website, but that may not be enough for 2018 enrollment to grow from 2017.

Based on the pace last week, Wall Street analysts predicted that initial enrollment would be less than 10 million, short of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office forecast for enrollment of 11 million in 2018.

An average of 10 million customers had enrolled and paid for Obamacare individual insurance as of Sept. 15, 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said on Wednesday, down from 12.2 million who signed up at the beginning of the year.

More than 1.07 million consumers selected 2018 Obamacare individual insurance plans and of those, 388,984 were new to the Obamacare individual insurance program. That is a 30 percent increase from week 5, when 823,180 people signed up in all.

The subsidized individual insurance market is part of former President Barack Obama’s healthcare law, commonly known as Obamacare. The government’s weekly reports exclude sign-ups in the 11 states and Washington D.C. that run their own websites and have later deadlines.

(Reporting by Caroline Humer; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli and David Gregorio)