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‘Enormous Surge’ in Exchange Enrollees

Exchange officials yesterday said the interest in health care coverage shown by Californians over the past week was gratifying.

“We saw an enormous surge in enrollment,” said Peter Lee, executive director of the exchange. “We are gratified that our outreach has paid off so well.”

Lee said the exchange’s enrollment numbers still could rise significantly because “in excess of 500,000 people” over the past week started enrollment applications. Those who didn’t finish applications have until April 15 to complete them.

In addition to the half-million people who started the sign-up process, Lee said anyone who tried and failed to get onto the website before March 31 to enroll also could tell that to an exchange enrollment counselor and complete an application by April 15.

“If you didn’t get on the site, and some people were not able to get on the site [because of high demand], we want to help them to the finish line,” Lee said. “We are on the honor system here.”

According to exchange numbers released yesterday:

Through March 31, the exchange had 1,221,727 people sign up for coverage; Latino enrollment hit 36% in March, for a total of 26% overall; and On March 31, the last day of open enrollment, 117,421 people started online accounts.

“This shows there is strong demand for coverage,” Lee said.

He added that health plans should be happy with an increase in younger, healthier applicants, too. “We expect that 2015 rates will reflect the good risk mix we’ve delivered,” Lee said.