Enrollment Surges but 200,000 Immigrants to Lose Coverage

Obamacare enrollment passed the government’s official projection for 2015 despite about 200,000 immigrants losing coverage because they couldn’t prove legal residency.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said Wednesday that the 200,000 people will be dropped from plans at the end of February. They are in addition to the 112,000 who lost coverage late last year.

“These are individuals who have gone through the process of attempting to confirm their citizenship or immigration status for their 2014 coverage and (despite) repeated outreach we’ve not received that documentation,” said Andy Slavitt, CMS’ principal deputy administrator. “So our requirements of enforcing the law will require us to remove these people from our coverage.”

Immigrant advocates, who have had some of the biggest successes in enrollment on the federal health care exchange, said it was unfair. Angel Padilla, a health policy analyst with the National Immigration Law Center, said that even though HealthCare.gov is working much better, the system for determining eligibility for insurance and subsidies still isn’t working properly.

“This number is shocking,” said Padilla. “We’ve been asking (CMS) for an update on how many people are still at risk and it’s disappointing it’s so high.”

The new people losing coverage will be notified in the coming days, said CMS spokesman Aaron Albright.

The news comes just four days before the end of open enrollment for the federal and state exchanges selling Affordable Care Act policies and as sign-ups are starting to surge.

CMS announced that 7.75 million people had signed up through the federal exchange through Feb. 6, while Charles Gaba of ACASignups.net says another 2.6 million have enrolled in the 14 states with their own exchanges.

Gaba, whose private site tracks enrollment closely, said the latest figures show the Department of Health and Human Services has already surpassed its prediction of 9.1 million enrollees for 2015. He estimates that number will climb to 11 million by the end of open enrollment.

Officials also said traffic on HealthCare.gov has been increasing over the course of the week. As of 10 a.m. Wednesday, there was a 58% increase in visitors to the Marketplace compared with Feb. 4.

Also, the volume of calls coming in to the Marketplace Call Center is showing a marked increase from this time last week — with about 37% more calls. Officials expect a last-minute surge in the final days before the Sunday deadline.

Overall, officials and insurance experts said sign-ups have gone more smoothly this year than last.

“There are some hiccups here and there, but overall it’s going well,” said Laura Adams, senior insurance analyst for insuranceQuotes.com, an online way to shop and compare insurance rates. “People are concentrating on the insurance this year, not the process to get signed up.”

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