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North Dakota's 265 signups fewest on federal Obamacare exchange

FARGO - A new snapshot of health insurance enrollment through the new online marketplace shows that 265 people so far have signed up for coverage in North Dakota.

FARGO - A new snapshot of health insurance enrollment through the new online marketplace shows that 265 people so far have signed up for coverage in North Dakota.

That's the figure in a report issued Wednesday by the Obama administration, which has been striving to improve performance in the marketplace, which launched Oct. 1 with widespread problems.

Among the 36 states using the federally run website, North Dakota had the fewest people who had selected a plan.

Figures also show that 2,253 applications were completed by North Dakota consumers seeking coverage for 4,350. An estimated 712 applications were pending in North Dakota.

In Minnesota, which operates its own exchange, called MNsure.org, 4,478 individuals have selected a marketplace plan, and 32,209 applications were submitted seeking coverage for 68,984, with 2,666 applications pending.

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Adam Hamm, the North Dakota insurance commissioner and an outspoken critic of the federal health reform law, said the number of people signed up to date is paltry.

Because the federal report tallies the number of people who have selected a marketplace plan, instead of those who have been confirmed as enrolled, it could be overstating the number of firm signups, Hamm said.

Figures compiled by North Dakota, including enrollments with the state's three largest insurers, indicate 188 enrollments so far.

"It looks like they've puffed up the numbers for North Dakota by more than a third," Hamm said.

Either way, the numbers are "very, very low," he added.

"To me it signifies that it's a horribly low number for the first two months," Hamm said, noting the six-month enrollment period.

If the numbers don't increase dramatically, especially among young and healthy consumers, the pool might not be large enough to be financially viable, he said.

The online marketplaces are a key piece of the Affordable Care Act, the health insurance reform law passed in 2011 and also known as Obamacare.

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