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Obamacare applications near 700,000, official says

The federal government forms for applying for health coverage are seen at a rally held by supporters of the Affordable Care Act, widely refe
The federal government forms for applying for health coverage are seen at a rally held by supporters of the Affordable Care Act, widely refe

(Reuters) - About 700,000 applications have been submitted for U.S. healthcare coverage being offered through new exchanges created by President Barack Obama's healthcare law, a U.S. official said on Thursday.

The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released the number during an update for journalists about the healthcare marketplace, which has had a rocky rollout since enrollment in the new plans began on Oct 1.

The U.S. government is operating the healthcare.gov website, which has been plagued by technical problems since the outset and is the portal for 36 states; the remaining states are operating their own online marketplaces. The nearly 700,000 applications are the total from both the state- and federally-run exchanges, Julie Bataille, a CMS spokeswoman, said on the media call.

Applications for at least 390,000 people have been completed through the state-run exchanges, according to a Reuters tally of state reports.

Completed applications mean that the applicants received a determination about whether they are eligible for tax credits or the Medicaid program for low-income Americans. Applicants have not necessarily chosen a plan.

While some states have released numbers for people who have enrolled in plans, Bataille said she did not have that figure, but that CMS would release it monthly.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated earlier this year that 7 million people would buy the new private plans offered by state exchanges for coverage next year.

(Reporting by Lewis Krauskopf and Sharon Begley; Editing by Richard Chang)

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