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Obamacare exchange enrollment falls to 7.3 million

Pool

Obamacare had 7.3 million paying customers as of August, the Obama administration said Thursday. When the health care law's open enrollment period ended in April, the White House had estimated that 8 million people signed up, although not necessarily paid for their coverage.

"This is the most recent count of people who have coverage throughout the Marketplace," Centers for Medicare and Medicaid administrator Marilyn Tavenner told the House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform Thursday. "Each month, this number will change slightly as consumers transition in and out of coverage as their life circumstances change- everything from getting a new job, to moving to a new state, or becoming eligible for Medicaid or Medicare."

Tavenner did not specify why the number had decreased. It could be that some people who signed up for coverage never actually paid their premiums and got kicked off of coverage. It's also possible that Healthcare.gov shoppers gained coverage elsewhere. If they got a job, for example, they would likely jump to their employer's plan. Conversely, if an individual's income falls she may transition onto Medicaid in the states that have expanded the program.

As Tavenner points out, Obamacare enrollment will always be in flux as people transition on and off the market. Anyone who has a big life change — who gets a new job, for example, has a baby or moves to a different state — gets a special enrollment period to buy or discontinue coverage. And that means, pretty much every day, the number of Obamacare enrollees changes.

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