Philadelphia – A new report from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) estimated that 17.6 million Americans have gained health insurance through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as the Obamacare. This number is 1,2 million higher than the one estimated in March.

Although these results are encouraging, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will continue to improve its service by targeting a total of 10.5 million people who are eligible for marketplace coverage but do not receive insurance.

According to HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, who spoke during an address at the Howard University College of Medicine on Tuesday, from that population, many are young, poor and from a minority background.

June 28, 2012: Supporters of President Barack Obama’s health care law celebrate outside the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. Photo: AP

“Five years in, millions of people have new coverage and the percentage of the uninsured has been reduced to the lowest level on record,” said HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell. “We now have a new opportunity before us to build on this progress.”

The outreach will have to focus on specifics demographic areas which are historically hard to reach. The report showed that half of the uninsured people are between the ages 18 and 34; about 30 percent of them are Hispanic, black or Asian; and 40 percent are living at or near the poverty line.

Burden also said that there are five priority target areas where eligible people are uninsured: Dallas, Houston, Northern New Jersey, Chicago and Miami.

The cost

A senior official said on Tuesday that HHS is planning to spend less this year on enrollment activities, though the amount in dollars has not been released.

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell Photo: Associated Press.

This is going to be a hard task, since officials believe that the department will get new customers who are turned off by the fee for being uninsured, which increases to at least $325 per person next year.

Moreover, to reach the predictions of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which say that 21 million people would have insurance by 2016, the marketplace enrollment would have to more than double its current number.

Source: HHS