Three million Americans have enrolled in private insurance via state and federal Obamacare exchanges through the first three weeks of January, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
“With millions transitioning to new coverage already, we continue to see strong interest nationwide from consumers who want access to quality, affordable coverage,” Marilyn Tavenner, administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), wrote in an HHS blog post Friday.
Although the new milestone is being touted as a success, CMS originally projected 4.4 million enrollments by the end of January. Federal officials will need to recruit another 2 million Americans to purchase plans per month before the open enrollment period closes in March — a drastic boost from current enrollment rates.
But Americans are still in the dark about the number of people that have actually purchased those plans. The Obama administration’s definition of ‘enrolled’ remains as those who have selected a private insurance plan on an Obamacare exchange and HHS officials still have not released data on the number of Americans that have gone through the final enrollment step and paid for their plans.
The administration did not announce the makeup of the new 800,000 or so people that have chosen new plans on an Obamacare marketplace, though Tavenner expressed her hopes that more young adults will be swayed by Obamacare advertising in the coming months.
“As our outreach efforts kick into even higher gear, we anticipate that these numbers will continue to grow, particularly as we reach even more uninsured young adults so that they know that new options and new ways to help eligible individuals pay for their premium are now available, thanks to the Affordable Care Act,” Tavenner gushed.
The number of young adults between the ages of 18 and 35 that selected private insurance plans via an exchange has been disproportionately low so far. HHS’s first demographic information on Obamacare participants, released several weeks ago, showed that only 24 percent of exchange enrollees were in the age range of “young invincibles,” whose low health care costs will implicitly subsidize the older and sicker customers of Obamacare exchanges. (RELATED: As Obamacare exchanges open, Hollywood campaigns to enroll younger people)
Reports have also indicated that most private insurance enrollees have been insured prior to purchasing exchange coverage. A McKinsey & Co. estimate puts the previously uninsured at a low of 11 percent of all enrollees — meaning Obamacare is primarily being used as a means of replacing canceled plans and for doling out taxpayer subsidies to those that already purchased coverage on their own.
Another 6.3 million individuals were deemed eligible for Medicaid or CHIP (the Children’s Health Insurance Program) through December, but HHS has yet to announce how many have enrolled and whether consumers are eligible for prior programs and renewals or the Obamacare Medicaid expansion itself.
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