Exchange Sign-Ups Increasing Dramatically

Enrollment statistics released yesterday by the state’s health benefit exchange show a large spike in the number of enrollees during the first week of December.

Covered California officials yesterday said 49,708 completed the enrollment process and chose a health plan from Dec. 1 to Dec. 7. That rate of enrollment is significantly higher than the rate of sign-ups during the first two months, which totaled 109,296 for October and November.

That raises the grand total for enrollment so far to just over 159,000 Californians, from Oct. 1 to Dec. 7.

“In the first week of December, we had 144,000 completed applications,” said Peter Lee, the executive director for Covered California. “Among those Californians, about 50,000 of them went all the way through the process to pick a health plan. That’s an average of more than 7,000 a day, about 15 times more than previous [months’ rate].”

Lee said he expects enrollment numbers to escalate as Dec. 23 — the last day to enroll in time to get Jan. 1, 2014 coverage — approaches.

“That momentum is not stopping,” Lee said. “It’s building.”

Lee was quick to point out that people can sign up through Mar. 31. The Dec. 23 deadline applies only to those who want coverage to start Jan. 1.

“What this is really saying is California has heard the news,” Lee said.

Lee said the exchange will release data Monday more specific to regions, including health plan choices in particular parts of the state.

On Wednesday, federal health officials released November enrollment numbers for exchanges and for Medicaid expansion. “About 360,000 had signed up with exchanges and about 800,000 had enrolled in Medicaid — and a quarter of those came from California,” Lee said.

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Capitol Desk Covered California