Enrollment in state and federal exchanges under the Affordable Care Act continues to grow, but the figures are still far beneath what the Obama Administration had originally projected.
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With just about three weeks left until the end of open enrollment period, the Department of Health and Human Services reported Tuesday that 4.2 million people had selected plans on both state and federal exchanges. This is up from the 4 million enrollees HHS reported on Feb. 25.
The administration had originally aimed to enroll 7 million people in year one of the ACA, with 2.7 million people from the young and healthy demographic needed to offset the costs of older and sicker people in risk pools for insurers. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office revised down enrollment numbers last month to 6 million, and expectations were lowered by Vice President Joe Biden as well in mid-February, when he said enrollment was off to a “hell of a start” and that numbers would likely hit 5 or 6 million for year one.
As predicted, enrollment has continued to tick up as the March 31 deadline approaches. HHS reported nearly 943,000 enrolled in February alone. The percentage of young enrollees in this month’s report is three percentage points higher it was during October through December, at 27% compared to 24%. But the total percentage of young enrollees in the 4.2 million total enrollees stands at 25% being ages 18-to-34. The target enrollment for this group was originally 38%.
In addition, 83% of the current enrollees are eligible for financial assistance to offset the cost of their monthly premiums. Subsidies are available under the ACA for those making up to 400% of the federal poverty level, about $45,000 for an individual and $94,000 for a family of four.
HHS’s numbers continues to include those who have “selected” plans on both state and federal exchanges, which means people who have and have not paid their first month’s premiums are included. The insurance industry typically considers an individual enrolled when he or she makes that first payment.
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Under the ACA, every individual in the country has to have insurance by the end of open enrollment period on April 1, or they will face a fine of $95 or 1% of their annual income for failing to comply.