The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced on Thursday that close to 13 million Americans signed up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act's exchange marketplaces.

An additional 4 million people were included in the latest numbers of enrollees from the 38 states where HealthCare.gov is available. About 42 percent of the total 9.6 million people who received health insurance coverage through HealthCare.gov this year were new to the exchange.

HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell said that the success of the enrollment season exceeded their expectations.

She pointed out that about 2.7 million of newly insured consumers this year were between 18 to 34 years old, which represents a higher number of young enrollees compared to last year's figures.

Advocates of the Affordable Care Act estimated that there will be a significant increase in the number of enrollees following a particularly strong December and the lull that often occurs during the holiday season.

As many as 700,000 consumers signed up for ObamaCare coverage during the final week of January. By comparison, more than 1 million people signed up for the program during the final week of enrollment in 2015.

Kevin Counihan, CEO of HealthCare.gov, shared his optimism about the success of the 2016 enrollment season.

"I'll just be blunt with you. We knocked the lights out this year. We did a great job," Counihan said.

"Is it perfect? No. Do we have more to do? You bet. But it's been a great year."

ObamaCare supporter Charles Gaba has been tracking enrollment numbers through the website acasignups.net.

He said that he had to adjust his forecast regarding the national enrollment on the federal and state exchanges twice in the month of January alone from 14.7 million to about 12.9 million as a result of what he considers an "underwhelming" enrollment.

Meanwhile, John Goodman, a health economist who opposes ObamaCare, expressed a pessimistic view of the enrollment. He said that there are still millions of Americans who do not have health insurance coverage.

He argued that for every individual who receives insurance through the exchanges, there are three others who choose to remain uninsured. This means that the enrollment has failed as a social experiment overall.

Goodman, who is the head of the Goodman Institute for Public Policy Institute and an adviser to a number of Republican politicians, said that one of the primary concerns people have regarding the enrollment is that many of those who signed up are individuals who are eligible for the highest available subsidies or those who are likely to face pricy medical bills because of their sickness.

Goodman said that even though the Obama administration has imposed new restrictions on the eligibility of people to enroll to the insurance program, some individuals will be able to find ways to take advantage of the system.

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