Nearly 3.3 million have enrolled through health insurance marketplace, including more young adults

02/12/2014 4:02 PM

02/12/2014 4:02 PM

Nearly 3.3 million people have signed up for health insurance through the marketplaces established by President Barack Obama’s health care law and about one-fourth of them are young adults, the White House said Wednesday.

The Obama administration reported a modest uptick in the enrollment of young adults, a group avidly sought by insurers because they are usually healthier and need fewer costly medical services.

In a new report on enrollment, the administration said 1.9 million people had selected health care plans in the federal marketplace from October through January. That included 54,157 Missourians and 22,388 Kansans.

An additional 1.4 million chose plans offered through 15 state-run insurance exchanges.

In January alone, officials said, more than 1.1 million people signed up for insurance in the federal and state exchanges.

Administration officials said they were pleased with the numbers.

“These encouraging trends show that more Americans are enrolling every day and finding quality, affordable coverage in the marketplace,” said Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services. “The covered population is getting younger.”

In January, 318,000 people age 18 to 34 selected health plans, bringing the total in that age group to 807,500, officials said.

The administration’s goal was to have 4.4 million people signed up by now, according to a memorandum prepared in September by the Department of Health and Human Services. But the federal insurance website, HealthCare.gov, got off to a rocky start, thwarting many people who tried to sign up in October and November.

The new data show that people buying insurance on the exchanges still tend to be older and potentially less healthy.

People 55 to 64 — the range just below the age at which people qualify for Medicare — represented the largest group nationally, 31 percent, down from 33 percent from October through December.

Of those who signed up in the last four months, administration officials said, 53 percent are age 45 to 64 — down slightly from 55 percent in the first three months. About 25 percent of those choosing a health insurance plan are 18 to 34. This group accounted for 24 percent of those picking plans in the first three months.

In Missouri and Kansas, as in many states, the largest group of enrollees were 55 to 64. Thirty-three percent of signups in Missouri were from that age group, as were 31 percent of the Kansas total.

The next largest group in Missouri was in the age 45-54 category, 22 percent of total enrollees in the state. In Kansas, there was a tie among two age groups. The 26-34 and 45-54 groups each accounted for 19 percent of those who selected a plan through the federal marketplace.

The open enrollment period continues until March 31, and White House officials predict a surge of applications just before the deadline. Officials said they particularly expect more young people to sign up as the deadline nears.

People who go without insurance after that may be subject to tax penalties, although the Internal Revenue Service has indicated that it prefers public education over aggressive enforcement in the first year of the “individual mandate.”

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