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Federal health insurance exchange enrollment continues to skyrocket

Health Care Reform and Policy
by David Dillon
Doctors, consumers concerned about changing health insurance landscape
Doctors, consumers concerned about changing health insurance landscape

The troubled initial rollout of the federal health insurance exchange site is now in the rearview mirror as more consumers nationwide flock to the marketplaces to obtain their health coverage for the coming year. In the month of January alone, the number of people who were signed up through the Healthcare.gov site surged once again.

Total enrollment grew 53 percent in the first month of the year, as about 1.1 million people signed up in January alone, according to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. That brings the total number of enrollees to nearly 3.3 million. That includes 27 percent who were between the ages of 18 and 34 years old (the demographic considered most important to the success of the exchanges overall), and which saw the biggest improvement of any age group during that time at 65 percent.

For the most part, these young adults opted not for the least-expensive coverage, but for more comprehensive plans instead, the report said. In all, 81 percent of those in the millennial age group had at least silver coverage. In general, it should be further noted that HHS believes young people will continue to sign up in greater numbers as the March 31 enrollment deadline approaches, because while they generally don't feel as though they need coverage, they nonetheless may want to avoid the kinds of fines that they'll incur for going without after that date.

More demographic information
Interestingly, of the 3.3 million or so people who signed up so far, 55 percent are women, and 31 percent are 34 years old or less, the report said. In addition, 62 percent of people who signed up have a silver, compared with 19 percent who opted for bronze. Further, more than four out of five are able to receive some sort of financial assistance to help them cover the cost of their health insurance, and that number is up from 79 percent of those who had signed up by Dec. 28 of last year.

Those in the health insurance industry may likewise see an uptick in consumer interest over the next few months, ahead of that deadline at the end of March, particularly from people who are still wary about their chances for success when it comes to the exchange sites. 

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