For the first month alone, the Obama administration projected that nearly a half million people would sign up for the new health insurance markets, according to an internal memo obtained by The Associated Press. But that was before the markets opened to a cascade of computer problems.
If the glitches persist and frustrated consumers give up trying, that initial goal, described as modest in the memo, could slip out of reach.
For example, the health exchange in California reportedly pulled its online doctors directory after admitting it was providing wrong information.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the California Medical Association says it found mistakes such as obstetricians labeled as ophthalmologists on "Covered California."
Also, the wrong doctors were described as fluent in other languages, the newspaper reported.
The Sept. 5 memo, for Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, lists monthly enrollment targets for each state and Washington, D.C., through March 31, the last day of the initial open enrollment period under President Barack Obama's health care overhaul.
California reported 16,300 applications processed as of Oct. 5. The memo projects 91,000 people will enroll in the state by the end of the month.
A big jump in applications to all health care exchanges is expected after Thanksgiving, since Dec. 15 is the last day people can sign up so their coverage will take effect Jan. 1.
Starting in January, the health care law requires virtually all Americans to have insurance or face fines.
At the same time, insurance companies will be forbidden from turning away people in poor health.
The memo projected enrollment would reach 3.3 million nationally by Dec. 31.