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Washington Ranks Fifth For Health Exchange Enrollment (Oregon Ranks Last)

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NPR Graphic/Matt Stiles
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You wouldn’t know it given the technical problems that plagued Washington’s health exchange over the last several days, but the state is fifth in the country for enrollment based on population, according to the Department of Health and Human Services and the US Census Bureau.

More than 175,000 Washington residents have signed up through the state exchange to date, according to data on wahealthplanfinder.org. Many are newly eligible for Medicaid when the public health program expands in January.

More than 18,000 residents have signed up for qualified health plans that are sold through the exchange, and another 43,000 have filled out applications, but have yet to make payments.  

Nationwide, roughly 264,000 people signed up for private insurance coverage last month through the federal and state exchanges, according to data from the Health and Human Services Department. That brings the total to about 364,000 for October and November.

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Enrollment has increased since Dec. 1, when HHS announced that the site is working smoothly for the "vast majority of users." The numbers show about 29,000 enrollments on Dec. 1 and 2, but those figures aren't in the latest report.

Because HealthCare.gov was barely functioning in October and much of November, the administration is falling far short of the 3.3 million people it had projected would sign up by the end of December.

But officials said they're still confident they'll reach the goal of 7 million sign-ups by the end of March, when open enrollment closes. "We think we're on track and we will reach the total that we thought. We're only 2 1/2 months into a six-month open enrollment period," said Michael Hash, the director of HHS's Office of Health Reform.

Year started with KUOW: 1994
Elise Hu is a host-at-large based at NPR West in Culver City, Calif. Previously, she explored the future with her video series, Future You with Elise Hu, and served as the founding bureau chief and International Correspondent for NPR's Seoul office. She was based in Seoul for nearly four years, responsible for the network's coverage of both Koreas and Japan, and filed from a dozen countries across Asia.