Thursday, November 14, 2013

About 3,500 Floridians enroll in federal health exchange

About 124,000 Floridians applied for health coverage and some 3,500 selected an insurance plan through new federal exchanges created under the Affordable Care Act, according to figures released Wednesday.
The data released by the Obama administration covers Oct. 1, when the exchanges opened, through Nov. 2.
Overall, 106,185 people throughout the nation enrolled in a health plan through the health exchanges.
Among the 36 states where the health exchanges are fully run or supported by the federal government, nearly 1 million people applied during the first month, while 26,794 chose a health plan. Florida was tops in both categories among those 36 states.
Another 516,248 applied for coverage and 79,391 selected a specific plan during that same period among the 14 states (and the District of Columbia) that chose to operate their own exchanges. The exchanges are on-line marketplaces where consumers can shop for and compare health plans.
"No one will be satisfied with the numbers because they will be below what we sought prior to the launch," White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
According to an Associated Press report, the administration hoped 500,000 people would enroll by the end of October.
But enrollment numbers were expected to be much lower following a rough rollout of the federal website, Officials have been quick to say they have always expected that people would wait until closer to the March 31 deadline before actually purchasing a plan, as has been the case with past government programs, such as Medicare Part D.
The health insurance issue is particularly important in Florida where nearly 25 percent of residents under 65 lack coverage. Only Nevada and Texas have higher percentages of residents without coverage.
Last week, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told a Senate committee she expected the enrollment statistics to be "quite low."
The news follows reports from an unnamed administration official saying the federal health insurance web site,, may not be working properly as promised by Nov. 30. White House Chief Technology Officer Todd Park did not allay those concerns during a House committee hearing Wednesday.
His "team is working incredibly hard to meet that goal," Park said.
The Nov. 30 date is important because customers must buy insurance by Dec. 15 to be covered on Jan. 1. However, anyone who signs up by the end of enrollment March 31 will avoid a fee for not having health insurance in 2014.
Park said can now register 17,000 people and provide access for 25,000 per hour. He said the administration hopes to provide access for 50,000 people per hour.

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