By MELINDA DESLATTE / Associated Press
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- Fewer than 400 Louisiana residents were able to sign up for health insurance last month through the federally run online marketplace created under President Barack Obama's health revamp, according to data released Wednesday.
Website problems left many people unable to enroll for coverage despite repeated attempts.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released enrollment figures for October, showing fewer than 27,000 people had completed the full process to get coverage across the 36 states using the federal website.
In Louisiana, the number was 387.
Applications seeking coverage for more than 14,100 people in the state have been filed. About 13,600 of those have been deemed eligible for insurance through the marketplace, but they haven't yet chosen a coverage plan, according to the data.
Republican members of Louisiana's congressional delegation seized on the dismal numbers, saying they provide proof that Democrats in Congress and the White House need to reverse course on the federal health overhaul called the Affordable Care Act.
"Americans knew Obamacare was not ready for prime time, and these terribly low enrollment numbers prove it," said U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, in a statement.
The marketplace offers health insurance options for people who are uninsured or who currently pay for individual policies, rather than getting insurance through their jobs.
The federal government is handling the online marketplace for Louisiana because Gov. Bobby Jindal, an opponent of the health law, refused to let the state create its own website.
Enrollment opened on Oct. 1, and people have until March 31 to sign up.
Federal subsidies are available to many low- and middle-income families to help cover costs, with 344,000 Louisiana residents estimated to be eligible for the assistance. At the same time, most people need to have insurance by mid-February or face fines.
Two companies are offering insurance plans on the marketplace throughout Louisiana: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana and the Louisiana Health Cooperative. Vantage Health Plan is offering coverage for most parishes.