Nearing Deadline for Exchange Enrollment Hopeful to Increase Numbers

Several months ago, Kathleen Sebelius, Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary, was asked what success would look like for the state and federal healthcare exchanges. Her response to NBC News was, Well, I think success looks like at least 7 million people having signed up by the end of March 2014. Now, with only an estimated 365,000 having become newly insured through the exchanges to date, some are concerned about meeting enrollment expectations.

Several months ago, Kathleen Sebelius, Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary, was asked what success would look like for the state and federal healthcare exchanges. Her response to NBC News was, “Well, I think success looks like at least 7 million people having signed up by the end of March 2014.” Now, with only an estimated 365,000 having become newly insured through the exchanges to date, some are concerned about meeting enrollment expectations.

“It was important to point out that 40 million people were not going to be insured in 1 year,” said David Simas, a White House deputy senior adviser. “CBO provided the best proof point that this is a 3-year ramp-up when they estimated 7 million in the first year. The CBO first-year estimate, however, did not speak to the viability of the markets. What will is the mix of healthy to unhealthy on a market by market, insurer by insurer basis.”

New York State remains confident it will meet its enrollment goal of 1.1 million people by the end of 2016. Currently, more than 100,000 have signed up for health coverage, with about 70,000 signing up for private plans and an estimated 30,000 qualifying for Medicaid. Florida has enrolled 18,000 and Texas 14,000 previous uninsured—the highest numbers so far among those states relying on the federal exchange.

In total, 1.8 million applications have been filed through the state and federal marketplaces. Almost 800,000 of those applicants have qualified for Medicaid or other federal assistance programs.

Michael Hash, director of HHS’s Office of Health Reform, says the administration remains confident in its expectation of enrolling nearly 7 million by the end of March 2014. “Based upon experience such as that in Massachusetts, we expect that a bulk of enrollments will occur toward the end of the open enrollment period,” Mr Hash said.

Around the Web

7 Million Obamacare Customers? [Politico]

100,000 Have Signed Up on New York Health Exchange, Officials Say [NY Times]

Federal Halth Exchange Enrolled 137,000 in October and November [Fierce Government]