HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (left) released dismal numbers Wednesday showing far fewer people signed up for Barack Obama's healthcare program than had been initially expected. Just 26,794 people signed up for ObamaCare in the first month since the glitch-riddled federal Web site covering 36 states opened for business, the Obama administration announced Wednesday.
The enrollment figures, which the White House kept as a closely guarded secret until now, showed that just 817 people a day were able to enroll for private insurance at HealthCare.gov between Oct. 1 and Nov. 2.
The 14 states and Washington, D.C. that run their own Web sites performed considerable better, according to numbers released by Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
The state sites signed up 79,391 people the first month, or nearly 75 percent of the total 106,185 Americans who have ObamaCare plans so far.
The slow pace of sign-ups cast further doubt over the Obama administration ability to meet its goal of enrolling 7 million people by March 31.
The success of the health-care law relies on millions of Americans – especially the young and healthy — buying insurance to offset the cost of covering people pre-existing conditions and other new benefits.
"The promise of quality, affordable coverage is increasingly becoming reality for this first wave of applicants to the Health Insurance Marketplaces," said Sebelius.
"There is no doubt the level of interest is strong. We expect enrollment will grow substantially throughout the next five months … They're also numbers that will grow as the website, HealthCare.gov, continues to make steady improvements."
In addition to the 106,185 individuals who selected plans from the online marketplaces, another 975,407 have made it through the process but have not yet selected a plan, according to HHS.
An additional 396,261 low-income Americans have been assessed eligible for Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
But they haven't signed up yet either, according to HHS.
Sebelius insisted that the pace of enrolment mirrored the experience in Massachusetts, which enacted a mandatory health care law under then-Gov. Mitt Romney that became the model for ObamaCare.
The HHS report also indicated that there have been an estimated 26,876,527 visitors on the state and federal Web sites.