WASHINGTON (TIP: Enrollment in health insurance plans on the troubled Obamacare website was very small in the first couple of days of operation, with just 248 Americans signing up, according to documents released on October 31 by a US House of Representatives committee. The Obama administration has said it cannot provide enrollment figures from HealthCare.gov because it doesn’t have the numbers. The federal website, where residents of 36 states can buy new healthcare plans under President Barack Obama’s law, was launched on October 1. “We do not have any reliable data around enrollment, which is why we haven’t given it to date,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told lawmakers on Wednesday. But the documents, which are labeled “war room” notes and appear to be summaries of issues with the problematic website beginning on October 2, indicate a mere six enrollments had occurred by that morning – the day after the website was launched and almost immediately crashed. “High capacity on the website, direct enrollment not working,” the October 2 notes said. By later that day, “approximately 100” enrollments had taken place. “As of yesterday, there were 248 enrollments,” said the notes from the morning of October 3.
The documents were released by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which has been demanding information from the administration about the website’s problems. The committee is chaired by Representative Darrell Issa, a Republican opponent of Obamacare. The notes were from meetings at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the arm of the Health and Human Services Department that has been overseeing the website, an Issa spokeswoman said. The documents were first reported by CBS News. Health and Human Services spokeswoman Joanne Peters said the department will release Obamacare enrollment statistics on a monthly basis after coordinating information from different sources. This will including call centers, paper applications for insurance, and data from insurers and states. The first release of enrollment data will likely be mid-November, she said. “These appear to be notes, they do not include official enrollment statistics,” Peters said of the documents Issa’s panel released. “As the secretary (Sebelius) said before Congress, we are focused on providing reliable and accurate information and we do not have that at this time … We have always anticipated that the pace of enrollment will increase throughout the enrollment period.” HealthCare.gov has been plagued with technology problems since its rollout. It was back up on Thursday after not being fully functional for much of Wednesday. Both the federal exchange and the exchanges built by 14 other states and Washington D.C. were set up to let residents enroll in new plans created under the Affordable Care Act, Obama’s 2010 healthcare reform law commonly known as Obamacare. The government has said it expects about 7 million people to enroll for individual insurance in 2014, many of whom are expected to receive government subsidies.