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Health exchange signups put dent in uninsured numbers

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By Jerry Geisel, Crain News Service

WASHINGTON (May 2, 2014) — Newly released enrollment statistics reveal that public health insurance exchanges created by the healthcare reform law already are making a dent in reducing the number of uninsured.

Among the 5 million-plus Americans eligible for federal premium subsidies and who enrolled in health plans offered in the 36 states where the federal government is running exchanges, 87 percent of enrollees were uninsured at the time they applied for coverage, according to a report issued May 1 by the Department of Health and Human Services.

While comparable information is not yet available in all 14 states and the District of Columbia that run their own exchanges, preliminary information from two states — Kentucky and New York — also shows that most exchange enrollees were previously uninsured.

For example in Kentucky, 75 percent of enrollees in that state’s exchange were uninsured at the time of enrollment, according to the report. In addition, New York reported that 70 percent of exchange’s enrollees and enrollees in other public programs, including Medicaid, were previously uninsured.

Federal regulators now are requesting that other states provide coverage information, which regulators said will be made available at a later date.

In addition, the report disclosed a last-minute surge of younger enrollees, which could help hold down rates in the future. For example, from March 2 to the close of open enrollment, which was as late as April 19 in some states, 31 percent of enrollees were between ages 18-34, that segment of the population, which tends to have the lowest healthcare costs. By contrast, from Oct. 1, when the exchanges first opened, through Dec. 28, just 24 percent of enrollees were between 18 and 34.

That last-minute surge boosted to 28 percent the percentage of enrollees between 18 and 34.

The report also found that just under 68 percent, or 5.45 million, of the 8.02 million enrollees were in state exchanges, while about 32 percent, or 2.57 million, were in exchanges in states run by federal regulators.

Of individual exchanges, California has the most enrollees — 1.41 million — followed by Florida at 983,775, Texas, 733,757, and New York, 370,451.

Exchanges with the lowest enrollments were Hawaii, 8,592, North Dakota, 10,597, the District of Columbia, 10,714, and Wyoming, 11,790.


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

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