AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Fewer than 3,000 Texans managed to enroll for health insurance last month on the problem-plagued federal online exchange, a small fraction of those seeking to apply amid the rocky rollout of the centerpiece of President Barack Obama's health care law.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said Wednesday that 2,991 people in Texas had selected a plan from the insurance marketplace. Nearly 54,000 Texans applied for a health plan through the exchange, seeking coverage for more than 108,000 people — including themselves and others like spouses and children.
So few succeeded because the federal website offering insurance coverage has been beset with problems since its Oct. 1 debut.
According to an internal memo obtained by The Associated Press, the Obama administration had projected that more than 44,000 people would have signed up for the Texas plan by Oct. 31.
Texas has the highest rate of uninsured Americans — more than 23 percent. But it is relying on the federal health coverage exchange website since the GOP-controlled Texas Legislature opted not to create a state-run marketplace.
Gov. Rick Perry also has refused to enact a provision in the White House-backed law to expand Medicaid and cover more of the working poor.
Texas is one of 36 states without their own insurance marketplaces. Across the nation, just 26,794 people in those states — including Texas — enrolled in private health insurance plans in the first month.
States running their own enrollment systems did better, signing up more than 79,000, for a total enrollment of 106,000-plus.
That, though, was barely one-fifth of the nearly 500,000 people administration officials had projected would sign up the first month of the nation's new health care law. Indeed, those succeeding in selecting a plan represent only about 1.5 percent of the 7 million people the administration hopes to enroll by next year.
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