Despite continuing political hostility in Kansas and Missouri toward the Affordable Care Act, enrollment in ACA marketplace health insurance plans shot up dramatically in the two states this year, newly released figures show.
Organizers of enrollment drives said they were better prepared this year to sign people up for health plans and more people appeared receptive to getting coverage through the ACA.
In Kansas, 96,226 people either selected a plan or were re-enrolled in plans for 2015, compared with 57,013 people who selected plans last year, according to data released Wednesday by the Department of Health and Human Services. In Missouri, 2015 enrollees numbered 253,969; last year, there were 152,335.
“I think the need that exists for health insurance in both states isn’t about a political agenda,” said Bill Moore, vice president of the Merriam-based REACH Healthcare Foundation, which helped fund local outreach efforts.
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Moore said local nonprofit groups involved in enrollment coordinated their work more closely and were more sophisticated in their use of digital media and advertising this year. “This time around, I think we were ahead of the game.”
In the Kansas City metropolitan area, including surrounding rural counties, 85,785 people enrolled in the plans, according to Health and Human Services. Comparable metro figures for last year weren’t immediately available.
The three-month open enrollment period for the second year of the ACA health plans ended Sunday with 11.4 million people who had either selected or re-enrolled in a plan. The number exceeded the Obama administration’s expectations of 9 to 9.9 million enrollees.
Last year, the number who signed up for plans reached slightly more than 8.1 million. Although open enrollment for 2014 stretched for six months, it was hampered at the start by a malfunctioning healthcare.gov enrollment web site as well as by harsh skepticism from Republican critics of the health care law.
But this year, the website worked smoothly and more insurers offered health plans in Kansas and Missouri, said Nancy Kelley of the Missouri Foundation for Health in St. Louis, which funded enrollment efforts in the state.
“And we would like to believe that there was a greater awareness about the financial help that’s available,” she said. Many low- and middle-income people qualify for federal subsidies to help pay their premiums for ACA plans.