Health coverage enrollments surge in January
Posted February 12
Updated February 14
Raleigh, N.C. — More than 52,000 people in North Carolina signed up for health coverage through the online marketplace in January, a 49 percent jump from the end of last year, according to federal figures released Wednesday.
North Carolina's 160,161 enrollees place the state fifth nationally for the number of people seeking health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said. California continues to lead the way, followed by Florida, New York and Texas.
California and New York operate their own online exchanges, while North Carolina, Florida and Texas offer health plans through the federal HealthCare.gov site.
Nationwide, almost 3.3 million people have enrolled in coverage so far, a 53 percent jump from the 2.1 million who had signed up for coverage through the end of December.
A quarter of enrollees nationwide are in the coveted 18-34 age group, up slightly from earlier figures. The government wants to sign up as many young, healthy people as possible to help subsidize the medical costs racked up by older enrollees.
“These encouraging trends show that more Americans are enrolling every day, and finding quality, affordable coverage in the marketplace,” Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement.
The Obama administration hopes to have 7 million people signed up by March 31. After that date, people without health coverage face a tax penalty.
The report didn't note, however, how many people have paid their January premiums, which is necessary to guarantee coverage, or how many of the enrollees previously lacked health insurance.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, the only firm offering health plans statewide through the exchange, said it has notified about 6,400 customers who haven't paid their first month's premium that they technically aren't enrolled until they do so, spokesman Lew Borman said. The company previously sent invoices and emails to the people reminding them that their premiums were due, he said.
Borman said all of the people who have failed to pay their premiums can go back on the exchange and enroll for coverage to start at a later date. The deadline for enrolling for March 1 coverage is Saturday.
In North Carolina, 25 percent of enrollees are ages 18 to 34, 58 percent are women, 90 percent will qualify for federal subsidies on their premiums and 72 percent selected middle-of-the-road Silver plans for coverage, according to federal figures.