U.S. Govt Sees 1M More People on Obamacare Exchanges in 2017

Government And Institutions Reuters

A man looks over the Affordable Care Act (commonly known as Obamacare) signup page on the HealthCare.gov website in New York. (REUTERS/Mike Segar)

The U.S. Health and Human Services Department estimates that 1 million more people will sign up for health insurance on the Obamacare exchanges for 2017 compared with 2016, a department official told reporters on Wednesday.

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President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare, created online exchanges where consumers can shop for individual health insurance and receive income-based subsidies. The exchanges opened in 2014 with insurance for sale by major companies including Aetna Inc and Anthem Inc.

But enrollment has been about half of what was initially expected and some large insurers this year have said they were losing too much money on the exchanges because of that and the fact that enrollees are older and sicker than expected. Aetna and UnitedHealth Group have largely pulled out of the exchanges for 2017.

The health department said it expects 2017 sign-ups of 13.8 million people versus 12.7 million for 2016. Average monthly enrollment in 2017 is estimated at 11.4 million people, up from 10.5 million people in 2016, the official said.

Separately, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell told reporters there are 10.7 million uninsured people who are eligible for the exchanges, and that about 40 percent of those are young. More enrollees in that group, aged 18 to 34, could help balance out insurer costs because they typically have lower health costs.

By Toni Clarke

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(Additional reporting and writing by Caroline Humer in New York; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Matthew Lewis)

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