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WASHINGTON (AP) - Less than a half million people whose health insurance was canceled under President Barack Obama's new law have not yet found other coverage, the administration said Thursday.
However, officials said that figure could shrink in the coming days. Americans have until Dec. 23 to purchase insurance and ensure they have no gap in coverage if their current plans are among those that will be canceled at the end of the month.
The cancellations have become a nagging problem for the White House, compounding the widespread technology failures that marred the rollout of the nation's health care law.
Since the law's passage in 2010, President Barack Obama repeatedly promised that people who liked their insurance would be able to keep it. However, the law set minimum requirements for coverage, meaning people who obtained subpar plans after the law was passed would have to find new coverage.
More than 4 million people have had their plans canceled because their coverage does not meet the new standards. Some of those people are purchasing new plans through their insurance company or the government exchanges.
The federal sign-up website was riddled with problems when it went online Oct. 1, but the administration says the functionality has vastly improved. Officials say they expect heavy online traffic ahead of the Dec. 23 deadline and will likely have to default to an online queuing system when the site reaches capacity.
Officials have also ramped up staffing at call centers for those signing up for insurance over the phone, with about 800 additional new agents on hand.
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