Saw Almost 950,000 Sign Up After Open Enrollment

Almost 950,000 new customers selected health coverage on outside of the open-enrollment period after they became eligible due to changes such as losing their employer-provided insurance or having a baby, according to a government report on the federal health insurance exchange.

With the new consumers who enrolled during the year due to changes in their circumstances, the Obama administration remains on track to meet its goal of 9.1 million to 9.9 million people who have paid for coverage through the insurance exchanges by the end of 2015.

“So far this year, nearly 950,000 people have gained the peace of mind that comes with access to coverage by taking advantage of a special enrollment period, providing us with further evidence that the Health Insurance Marketplace is working for America’s families,” said Kevin Counihan, CEO of the federal exchange known as, in a statement.

The number reflects consumers who selected plans between Feb. 23, 2015 and June 30, 2015 in the 37 states that rely on the federal exchange, according to Thursday’s report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. It doesn’t necessarily mean these consumers have paid premiums.

Nearly 85% of the people who selected a plan did so for one of three reasons, according to CMS. Half had lost their health insurance or access to minimal benefits required by law. Nearly 20% found out they were ineligible for Medicaid, the state-federal program for low-income people. And 15% obtained coverage during a tax season special enrollment period for people who learned they would have to pay a penalty for not having health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

The latest period saw a larger number of consumers aged 34 and under selecting plans than did so under open enrollment. The agency said that suggests they were accessing health insurance through the marketplace as they switched jobs, were no longer eligible to stay on their parents’ plans, or experienced life changes such as marriage or childbirth.

About 8.8 million people selected a plan or were re-enrolled through during open enrollment this year. As of March 31, 7.5 million had coverage and paid premiums. There were 2.9 million people who obtained coverage and paid premiums through state-run exchange as of March 31.

The latest enrollment period, which ran from mid-November to mid-February, with an extension for some consumers, went smoother than the previous session. The earlier enrollment period saw technology problems plague many of the exchanges. Final numbers are likely to still change because it is common in the insurance industry for some customers who sign up for a policy to end up not paying for it.

The exchanges were previously expected to sign up 13 million people for 2015, according to an early April 2014 projection by the Congressional Budget Office that was later revised downward. The Obama administration said the target of 9.1 million to 9.9 million enrollees was based on early enrollment trends.

As of the end of March, most consumers who signed up and paid premiums selected what are known as silver plans, where the plan pays 70% of health costs on average and the customer pays about 30%. While the open enrollment period has ended, people can sign up for health insurance on the exchange 60 days following certain changes in life circumstances. Those include a change in family status, such as a marriage, the adoption or birth of a child, getting out of prison, and loss of other health coverage.

Source Link