WASHINGTON — After a dismal start in October, the number of people who enrolled in health coverage on the troubled HealthCare.gov website more than quadrupled in November, according to new figures from the Obama administration.
The federal health insurance marketplace has shown improvements since October, when technical problems stifled enrollment and created a political firestorm for President Barack Obama and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
A massive site repair effort by hundreds of federal and private sector IT experts is credited with sparking the enrollment turnaround that has brought more than 28.4 million visitors to HealthCare.gov since Oct. 1.
Collectively, the roughly 365,000 state and federal enrollees is far below the 800,000 new marketplace signups that the administration originally projected for October and November.
But the administration hasn't changed its goal of logging 7 million people into marketplace coverage by the end of open enrollment on March 31, 2014.
"We think we're on track and we will reach the total," said Michael Hash, director of the office of health reform at HHS.
With just over three months left before open enrollment ends, the administration will make a push for sign-ups in states with large numbers of uninsured, like Florida, Texas, Illinois and Georgia.
"We expect to have a bump in enrollment at the end," said Nancy DeLew, acting HHS deputy assistant secretary for planning and evaluation.
In Florida, more than 281,500 people applied for coverage through healthcare.gov between Oct. 1 and Nov. 30. Only about 18,000 of them, however, actually enrolled in private plans. Another 19,000 were deemed eligible for Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program.
The number of sign-ups for private plans is still a tiny sliver of Florida's population, though it did pick up significantly over the month of November. By the end of October, only 3,500 Floridians had enrolled in plans.
The administration report found a total of 137,204 people enrolled in the states served by the federal website — including Florida — by the end of November, up from 26,794 in October.
Florida was the leader among states with federally run markets.
The 14 states running their own sites enrolled 227,478 people, up from 79,391 in October.
People have until Dec. 23 to enroll in coverage that begins on Jan. 1.