By Matthew Larotonda
The latest enrollment numbers for the federal health insurance marketplace are out and the results are mixed.
The Department of Health and Human Services reports that 3.3 million have found coverage through either the federal or state exchanges by Feb. 1, with 1.1 million signing up in January alone, a 53 percent increase. It’s slightly better than the 1 million initially projected for the month.
It also comes off December’s dramatic surge of 1.8 million newly enrolled. The boom was partially the result of fixes to the marketplace’s disastrous October launch and the resulting backlog of users.
The website created under the Affordable Care Act — commonly known as Obamacare — still has a way to go to reach the government’s initial projection of 7 million by the end of March. Afterwards Americans will face a fine for enrolling after the deadline.
In a phone conference with reporters today HHS officials demurred when asked whether they were on track for the 7 million target.
Officials were also unable provide numbers demonstrating how many of the previously uninsured were able to find coverage through the website. But HHS did note that some of the uninsured may have found plans outside the exchange that were previously unavailable to them due to preexisting conditions, criteria that was lifted by the ACA.
Persons aged 18-34 represent 27 percent of the enrolled, up three points in January. They are a critical benchmark for Obamacare, which depends on the healthy and young to bring down premiums. But the White House has previously stated that if they reach the 7 million projection by March that at least 40 percent will need to be made up of young people to keep those costs from rising.
Regardless, enrollment for those young people grew by 65 percent in January, larger than any other age group.