Almost 12 million people signed up for private health insurance using the Affordable Care Act's exchanges for 2015, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said at the White House Monday. | Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Almost 12 million people signed up for private health insurance using the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges for 2015, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said at the White House Monday. | Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Close to 12 million people are covered by health insurance plans purchased from an Obamacare exchange, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said at the White House Monday.

More than half of these enrollees are new to the program, said Burwell, speaking at an event commemorating the close of the second open enrollment period for subsidized private health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act’s exchange marketplaces. The enrollment total surpasses the Department of Health and Human Services’ projections, but is lower than what the Congressional Budget Office expected.

“Nearly 11.7 million Americans signed up or were re-enrolled through the marketplace as of Feb. 22,” Burwell said. “We are finally moving the needle on reducing the number of uninsured.”

These enrollments over the past two years have helped significantly reduce the share of Americans who are uninsured. That trend, though, is in jeopardy. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments last week in a lawsuit alleging that the Affordable Care Act doesn’t permit health insurance subsidies for people living in the 34 states where the federal government is operating the Obamacare exchanges via HealthCare.gov. Almost 10 million people could lose their health coverage if the high court sides against the White House and eliminates the subsidies.

“We’re confident that we will prevail in the court case argued before the Supreme Court last week. The law is clear,” Burwell said Monday. “The text and structure of the Affordable Care Act demonstrate that individuals in every state are eligible for tax credits. Those who support this lawsuit believe that the law should be dismantled or repealed, and they are content to roll back the progress that we have achieved.”

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