765K U.S. Residents Have Selected Federal Exchange Plans, HHS Says
On Wednesday, the Obama administration said about 765,000 U.S. residents have chosen health plans through the Affordable Care Act's federal exchange since the second open enrollment period began on Nov. 15, the Washington Times reports.
According to data released by HHS for Nov. 15 to Nov. 28, about half of those who chose plans through HealthCare.gov did so for the first time, while the remaining individuals re-enrolled in exchange plans they purchased during the initial open enrollment period or selected new plans (Howell, Washington Times, 12/3). Specifically, the data noted that about 367,000 new individuals selected exchange coverage during the first two weeks of the open enrollment period (Baker, National Journal, 12/3).
The data only included enrollees from the states using the federal exchange for enrollment. In addition, the numbers did not account for whether individuals have paid their first premiums, effectively completing the enrollment process.
Meanwhile, the data noted that more than 5.4 million individuals visited HealthCare.gov from Nov. 15 to Nov. 28, while nearly 1.6 million called federal call centers (Herman, Modern Healthcare, 12/3).
HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said the department would continue releasing enrollment updates on a weekly basis (Ferris, The Hill, 12/3).
Uninsured Rate Drops
In related news, the number of uninsured non-elderly U.S. adults has declined by more than 10 million since the ACA's exchanges launched last year, according to an Urban Institute survey released Wednesday, Modern Healthcare reports.
The survey included responses from about 7,500 non-elderly U.S. adults. In addition, the survey tracked reports from other outlets that have shown substantial declines in the uninsured rate since the ACA was fully implemented last year.
According to the survey, the country's uninsured rate declined by about 30%, to 12.4% in September 2014, down from 17.5% in September 2013. According to Modern Healthcare, the quarterly survey indicated steady declines in the uninsured rate throughout the past year.
Further, the survey noted that hefty declines in the uninsured rate have been made in states throughout the U.S., regardless of whether they chose to expand their Medicaid programs under the ACA. Specifically:
- Non-expansion states saw their uninsured rates drop from 20.1% to 15.1% over the past year; and
- Expansion states saw their uninsured rates drop from 15% to 10.2% (Demko, Modern Healthcare, 12/3).
According to Kaiser Health News, the survey included individuals who:
- Enrolled in coverage through the ACA's exchanges;
- Gained coverage through their employers; and
- Qualified for Medicaid coverage in states that expanded the program.
Coverage Gains Being Made Among Various Groups
Meanwhile, additional surveys have found that significant coverage gains have been made among various demographics, KHN reports.
For example, uninsured rates have dropped among:
- Low-income individuals;
- People who live in rural areas; and
- Young adults.
In addition, research has shown that the uninsured rate has fallen more among women than men.
However, several groups have been left out of the coverage expansions, according to KHN. For example, undocumented immigrants do not qualify for exchange coverage under the ACA. In addition, low-income adults living in states that did not expand their Medicaid programs could fall into coverage gaps. Meanwhile, families who fall into the so-called family glitch -- in which individuals cannot afford coverage for their families through their employer but have incomes too high to qualify for subsidies to help purchase coverage -- also have not made significant gains under the coverage expansions (Rovner, Kaiser Health News, 12/4).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.