Fewer than 50,000 Americans have signed up for private health insurance plans via healthcare.gov, the federal insurance exchange website that opened on October 1. The Wall Street Journal reports:

Initial reports suggest that fewer than 50,000 people successfully navigated the troubled federal health-care website to enroll in private health insurance plans as of last week, two people familiar with the matter said Monday.

The early tally falls far short of internal goals set by President Barack Obama's administration in the months leading up to the opening of the HealthCare.gov site Oct. 1, and the low number has worried health insurers that are counting on higher turnout.

Technology problems and design flaws have blocked many users from completing insurance applications or creating accounts to use the site, which serves consumers in the 36 states where the federal government oversees the new health-insurance exchanges.

The administration had estimated that nearly 500,000 people would enroll in October, according to internal memos cited last week by Rep. Dave Camp (R., Mich.). An estimated seven million were expected to gain private coverage by the end of March, when the open-enrollment period is set to end.

The Obama administration plans to release official numbers later this week, and the Journal's reported number of 50,000 does not include those who may have signed up for insurance or for Medicaid through one of the 36 state-level exchanges. It's also unknown what the average age for these enrollees is.
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