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New Details Released on ACA Enrollment During First Open Enrollment Period

New Details Released on ACA Enrollment During First Open Enrollment Period

May 2, 2014 — A late surge of sign-ups in the Affordable Care Act's health insurance marketplaces throughout March and April pushed total enrollment to more than eight million people, according to a report released Thursday by the Obama administration, the New York Times reports.

According to the Times, the number of individuals who enrolled in plans since March exceeded total enrollment in the first five months of the open enrollment period. In sum, around 7.1 million people enrolled by the March 31 open enrollment deadline, while another 910,500 people enrolled through the administration's special enrollment period from April 1 to April 19 (Pear, New York Times, 5/1). The surge brought the final total enrollment figure to 8,019,763, the administration reported (Viebeck, The Hill, 5/1).

Demographic Information

The report for the first time offered more detailed demographic information on marketplace enrollees. According to the report, of the 3.8 million people who enrolled through HealthCare.gov and voluntarily disclosed such information, 63% are white, 17% are black, 11% are Hispanic and 8% are Asian.

In addition, the report noted that 54% of enrollees were women.

Meanwhile, the report noted that nearly 2.2 million, or 28%, of the eight million people who enrolled through either the federal or state marketplaces were ages 18 to 34 (New York Times, 5/1). Of those 2.2 million, nearly 1.2 million enrolled during the final weeks of the open enrollment period, The Hill reports (The Hill, 5/1).

In addition, the new data provided breakdowns on state enrollment. The states with the highest enrollment totals were California, with 1.4 million enrollees; Florida, with 983,775 enrollees; Texas, with 733,757 enrollees; New York, with 370,451 enrollees; North Carolina, with 357,584 enrollees; Pennsylvania, with 318,077 enrollees; and Georgia, with 316,543 enrollees (New York Times, 5/1).

According to the Wall Street Journal, enrollment totals in some Republican-controlled states that were resistant to the law, such as Florida and North Carolina, significantly exceeded federal officials' internal enrollment estimates.

Conversely, some states in which the federal government anticipated high enrollment fell short of expectations, including Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada and Oregon (Radnofsky/Wilde Mathews, Wall Street Journal, 5/1). In total, 20 states fell short of federal officials' enrollment projections (The Hill, 5/1). Still, the data showed that more than one-third of the total sign-ups occurred in states with high uninsured rates, including California, Florida and Texas (Cheney/Haberkorn, Politico, 5/2).

Paying for Coverage

In addition, the report showed that nearly 85% of those who had selected health plans through the marketplaces qualified for federal tax subsidies to help offset premiums costs, Modern Healthcare reports (Demko/Frank, Modern Healthcare, 5/1).

However, the data did not include the number of people who have activated their coverage by paying the first month's premium. According to the administration, the data included all who have signed up for coverage, regardless of whether they made payments.

Previous Insurance Status and Plan Selection

Federal officials also said they did not know how many people who enrolled in coverage previously were uninsured. According to the data, 13% of those who applied for federal subsidies through HealthCare.gov reported having health plans at the time of their application, but the administration cautioned that the data are not a reliable indicator of insurance status. Federal forms do not specify if people recently lost their coverage or were about to lose their coverage, according to the Times (New York Times, 5/1).

The report also indicated that enrollees were most likely to choose silver-level plans (Politico, 5/2).

Meanwhile, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that more than 4.8 million U.S. residents have enrolled in coverage through Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program, while around three million people under age 26 have received coverage through their parents' health plans because of an ACA provision (New York Times, 5/1). The totals bring the number of people who have gained coverage under the law to around 13 million (The Hill, 5/1).

In addition, Sebelius said that an additional five million people purchased private health plans outside of the marketplaces (New York Times, 5/1).