Dec 23, 2016 - Health

Obamacare signups surge in going-out-of-business sale

Obamacare enrollment for next year now stands at 6.4 million people -- roughly 400,000 more than at this time last year, according to a government report released Wednesday. That could suggest a rush to sign up for coverage now that the law is likely to be repealed, but Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell reported that more than 30,000 callers have asked whether they should even bother.

The answer, she told reporters, is yes. Obamacare is the law of the land, Burwell said, and any Obamacare coverage people buy is "a contract for 2017" that will be honored. She acknowledged, however, that the signup duties will switch to the Trump administration shortly before open enrollment ends Jan. 31 -- so all the Obama administration can do is offer to help the Trump team and hope the handoff goes well.

Between the lines: The Obama administration has to run up the score -- not just because a high enrollment number is a better talking point against repeal, but because they'd already promised insurers a better mix of healthy and sick people. The signups include roughly 2 million new customers and 4.3 million renewals.

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