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1,370 Illinoisans enrolled in Obamacare in first month

BY THE NUMBERS

1,370: Number of people in Illinois who selected an insurance plan in the first month of open enrollment under Obamacare

106,185: Number of people nationwide who selected a plan

7 million: Number of Americans the administration hopes to enroll by next year.

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Updated: December 15, 2013 11:47AM



In Illinois, 1,370 individuals selected an insurance plan in the first month of open enrollment in President Barack Obama’s health care law, the federal government said Wednesday.

Nationwide, a total of 106,185 individuals enrolled in a plan under the Affordable Care Act, a fraction of the nearly 500,000 initial signups that federal officials had projected a month before the trouble-plagued website launched on Oct. 1.

Those numbers, collected between Oct. 1 and Nov. 2, include people who may or may not have already paid a premium, the Department of Health and Human Services said. That makes it difficult to determine how many people have actually enrolled.

Last week, the director of the Illinois Health Insurance Marketplace said that the expected number of enrollees for October was in the “hundreds” in Illinois.

The majority of those new enrollees signed up through the 14 state-run exchanges, not the federal website, HealthCare.gov, which runs the Illinois marketplace and 35 other marketplaces. More than 79,000 signups came from the state marketplaces, while only 26,794 signed up through the federally run marketplaces.

Despite those low numbers, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the numbers indicate an overall level of interest by people who want to buy health insurance.

“Even with the issues we’ve had, the marketplace is working, and people are enrolling,” Sebelius said. “As more people shop and talk things over with their families, we expect these numbers to rise.”

She urged those Americans who were still trying to get on the federal website to keep trying. She said HealthCare.gov continues to improve compared with last month.

Nearly 27 million people have visited the exchange websites, and more than 3 million have called state and federal help lines, the federal government said.

State officials said they expected Illinois’ numbers to be about what they were.

In Illinois, 1,370 individuals have enrolled and selected a plan through Nov. 2, and 30,901 have completed the information on the application necessary to determine whether they qualify for tax credits, but have not yet purchased a specific plan.

That amounted to 56,636 Illinoisans who could be covered by those completed applications. Of those, the federal numbers showed that 11,603 individuals were eligible for financial assistance. In addition, Illinois has received more than 47,000 applications for Medicaid, which also was expanded under the health care law.

“We have consistently urged Illinois residents to take their time getting educated, rather than make an impulsive decision on something as important as health care for themselves and their families,” Jennifer Koehler, the director of the Illinois Health Insurance Marketplace said. “When HealthCare.gov is ready to handle more users, we expect to see more website traffic to Get Covered Illinois and significant growth in our enrollment numbers.”

The enrollment period for 2014 ends on March 31.

The federal government said it could not yet provide a breakdown of the ages of enrollees.

Many experts say the percentage of enrollees who are younger vs. older is the real numbers we should keep an eye out for, along with the plans people actually apply for.

Many Republicans slammed the enrollment figures, including Illinois Rep. Darlene Senger (R-Naperville).

“Washington needs to consider immediately delaying the individual mandate and disclosing the true impact and costs of ACA, specifically why so many Illinois families are losing their coverage,” she said. “We are witnessing a vivid demonstration of failure that is truly impacting people’s access to quality healthcare.”

Karen Pollitz, a senior fellow at the Kaiser Family Foundation, took the high amount of Web traffic to be a sign that there is high demand for what the Affordable Care Act is offering, despite the issues with the website.

“The next thing is going to be do they all get through to the end,” she said, meaning actually getting a health insurance card in their pocket.

Contributing: Art Golab

Email: mjthomas@suntimes.com

Twitter: @MonifaThomas1



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