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Public health exchange enrollment tops 4.2M

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By Jerry Geisel, Crain News Service

WASHINGTON (March 13, 2014) — More than 4.2 million people enrolled in health insurance plans offered through public exchanges as of March 1, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said March 11.

The number increased more than 28 percent compared with the nearly 3.3 million people enrolled as of Feb. 1. It was 90 percent higher than the 2.2 million people who had enrolled through Dec. 28.

The growth in enrollment illustrates both the demand for coverage and the progress HHS has made in overcoming the technical difficulties that potential enrollees faced in October and much of November in trying to sign up online for coverage.

Still, exchange enrollment will have to grow significantly to meet earlier projections. For example, the Congressional Budget Office projected that public exchanges would provide coverage to 6 million individuals this year.

In its report, HHS said it expects an “enrollment surge” before open enrollment closes at the end of March.

Of those who have enrolled, just over 38 percent opted for coverage in exchanges run by states. Nearly 62 percent selected plans in the 36 states where the federal government operates the exchanges because those states declined to do so, or in states in which HHS operates the exchanges in partnership with the states.

Four states lead

Among states running their own exchanges that have reported enrollment information, California had the most enrollees with 868,936 as of March 1, followed by New York with 244,618.

In states where the federal government runs health insurance exchanges, Florida had the most enrollees with 442,087 as of March 1, followed by Texas with 295,025.

HHS also said about 27 percent of people who enrolled from Feb. 1 to March 1 were 18 to 34 years old. That’s unchanged from January, but it is three percentage points higher than the first three months of enrollment.

This report appeared on the website of Crain’s Business Insurance magazine, a Chicago-based sister publication of Tire Business.

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