HHS reports 106,000 have picked health plans through ObamaCare exchanges

The Department of Health and Human Services reported Wednesday that more than 100,000 people have selected a health care plan through the ObamaCare exchanges -- a number that, likely due to widespread website failures, falls far short of the administration's goal.

The administration had originally hoped to sign up a half-million people in the first month of open enrollment. Now more than six weeks into the troubled launch of HealthCare.gov and other state-based exchanges, HHS announced Wednesday that 106,185 people had selected a plan as of Nov. 2. And just 27,000 did so via the federal exchanges.

The announcement had been highly anticipated, as lawmakers have been pressing the administration for weeks on official figures.

"The marketplace is working, and people are enrolling," Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius claimed in announcing the figures, adding that the numbers should grow "substantially" in the coming months.

But even the statistic revealed on Wednesday might be inflated.

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    The administration said the figure counts all those who have selected a health care plan from state and federal exchanges, even if they haven't yet paid a premium on those plans.

    One source explained to Fox News that no one is really "enrolled" until the insurance company knows about it.

    Still, the numbers announced Wednesday stand as the most definitive account to date from the administration of how many people have been able to wade through the problem-plagued website and pick a plan.

    The administration says a total of 975,407 applied for coverage and received an eligibility determination, but have not yet selected a plan. In addition to the 106,185 who have selected a plan, another 396,261 have been determined as eligible for Medicaid or a similar government program for children.

    A closer look at the numbers, though, shows how problems with HealthCare.gov have hampered the ability of would-be customers to enroll. Though the administration says the website is being fixed and it's getting better by the day, the stats show only 27,000 people signed up via the federally run exchanges. The state-run exchanges, which use different websites, signed up roughly 79,000. More than half of those sign-ups came from California and New York.

    In addition to the website problems, the administration is grappling with widespread complaints about insurance policies being cancelled due to ObamaCare restrictions.

    After the announcement, House Speaker John Boehner said the numbers "underscore the urgent need for President Obama to allow people to keep the plans they have and like."

    He added: "Above all, this report is a symbol of the failure of the president's health care law. It is a rolling calamity that must be scrapped."

    Top government technology officials were called to task about the website problems during a House committee hearing on Wednesday.

    Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, charged that the administration was cutting corners to meet "political deadlines" with the launch of the site.

    "They weren't ready. They weren't close to ready. This wasn't a small mistake. ... This was a monumental mistake to go live and effectively explode on the launch pad," he said.

    But U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park testified that they are making progress at a "growing rate."

    "The team is making progress, the website is getting better each week," he claimed.

    Henry Chao, the deputy chief information officer at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, also testified that the site is functioning "much better than it did initially," and can now handle 17,000 applications per hour.

    He acknowledged, "we underestimated the volume of users" who would try to access the site, but claimed that the team has made a number of fixes since then.

    The administration has vowed to correct the problems by the end of November.