Carney On Number Of Obamacare Enrollees: "We Don't Have That Data"

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QUESTION: And just very quickly, a housekeeping question on health care reform. I know that the President said that there were more than a million visitors by 7:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning, and there’s been a lot of talk about visitors to the website. But isn’t enrollees really the better metric for gauging as to how well that is doing? And do we have any of those numbers yet?

JAY CARNEY: Here is what we know. First, in the two days since the marketplaces opened, 7 million people have visited healthcare.gov, and that’s unique visitors. That is more than the number of people who visit SouthwestAirlines.com in a month -- in a month. That’s a pretty popular site. So as a measure of interest, it is substantial.

What we have said all along is that this is a six-month process. We are two days into it. We have 180 days to go. Another way of looking at that is that we’re 48 hours in with 4,320 hours to go. So we knew, and know, based on what happened in Massachusetts and other programs that have had open enrollments like this, that early periods are -- when we have these early periods of enrollment, that's when potential enrollees are exploring their options. And what’s rather remarkable about the Affordable Care Act and these marketplaces is that, on average, Americans in the 50 states have 50 options to choose from.

So we expect as time goes on that -- and people comparison shop and they talk with their spouses or other family members about what’s right for them and their finances and what kind of coverage they need and can afford, that more and more people will enroll. But we don't have -- in 48 hours, we have --

QUESTION: No hard enrollment numbers.

CARNEY: No, we don't have that data. And we’re not -- we’re focused on improving the consumer experience, making sure that the American people have the information they need through healthcare.gov and through the toll-free number to begin to make assessments about what kind of insurance they’d like.

As the President said today, the whole premise of this argument that the Republicans have been making that they're willing to shut down the government over and threaten default over is that Obamacare is a terrible thing, and we ought to -- it’s wildly unpopular, and it’s bad for the American people. And we should shut down the government over it if the President won’t defund it.

And I think that this is a pretty good test of that theory, and the response has been overwhelming.

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