NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Some 87% of people who selected health insurance plans through HealthCare.gov for coverage beginning January 1, 2015 were determined eligible for financial assistance to the Affordable Care Act, according to a Department of Health and Human Services report. These consumers qualified to receive subsidies to lower their monthly premiums, a 7% increase in such enrollees compared to those who selected plans over a similar period last year.
Furthermore, more than 4 million people in both the state and federal Marketplaces signed up for the first time or re-enrolled for 2015. This includes more than 3.4 million people who selected a plan in the 37 states that are using the HealthCare.gov platform for 2015 and more than 600,000 consumers who selected plans in Washington, D.C. and the 13 states that are operating their own Marketplace platform for 2015.
“This increase in enrollment is not very surprising,” said Ed Haislmaier, a health policies research fellow for the Heritage Foundation, a Washington, D.C. think-tank. “The only reason to buy through the exchanges is if one needs a premium subsidy. Otherwise, if you do not qualify, one might be better off buying off the exchange - for two reasons. One is that insurance plans sold off the exchange do not have to pay the 3.5% user fee for the exchange so the same plan might be cheaper. The other reason is there are more choices out of the exchange.”
While there was no mention of Medicaid increases or the cost to the taxpayer of these numbers, the Obama administration expressed satisfaction with these results.
“We’re pleased that nationwide, millions of people signed up for Marketplace coverage starting January 1," HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell said. The vast majority were able to lower their costs even further by getting tax credits, making a difference in the bottom lines of so many families. Interest in the Marketplace has been strong during the first month of open enrollment. We still have a ways to go and a lot of work to do before February 15, but this is an encouraging start.”
In terms of more detail, of the more than 3.4 million people who selected a plan through December 15 in the 37 states that are using the HealthCare.gov platform for 2015:
- 87% selected a plan with financial assistance compared to 80% in the early months of the first open enrollment period.
- 33% were under 35 years of age compared to 29% in the early months of the first open enrollment period.
- Nearly 1 million consumers selected a plan in the three days leading up to December 15. That is almost one-third (28%) of total plan selections from November 15 through December 15.
- Of the 3.4 million plan selections, 48% (1.6 million) re-enrolled in a Marketplace plan and 52% (1.8 million) signed up for the first time.
More than 600,000 consumers selected plans in Washington, D.C. and the 13 states that are operating their own Marketplace platform for 2015. That includes:
- 161,752 Marketplace plan selections in two states reporting only data for new consumers (California and New York);
- 153,011 Marketplace plan selections in seven states reporting data on new consumers and consumers actively re-enrolling in Marketplace coverage (Colorado, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Rhode Island); and
- 318,075 Marketplace plan selections in five states reporting data on new enrollees, consumers actively re-enrolling in Marketplace coverage, and automatic re-enrollees (Connecticut, Idaho, Kentucky, Vermont, and Washington).