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Insurance Marketplace Enrollment Up Nationally

By Staff | Dec 28, 2016

WHEELING – Open enrollment in the health insurance marketplace resulted in 22,777 West Virginians and 165,046 Ohioans making plan selections under the Affordable Care Act by the extended deadline on Monday.

Sylvia Burwell, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and Andy Slavitt, acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, released the information during a conference call Wednesday.

Burwell said the state-by-state snapshot does not include the number of people who are being re-enrolled automatically. She said the total figures for ACA coverage will be available in early January.

Comparisons with current-year enrollment figures have not been released for individual states.

Through the extended deadline for 2017 coverage, 6.4 million consumers nationwide have signed up for health insurance marketplace plans through healthcare.gov, an increase of 400,000 plan selections compared to last year at this time, Burwell said.

Total plan selections from Nov. 1 through Monday include 2.05 million new consumers and 4.31 million returning consumers actively renewing their coverage, she said. Consumers whose coverage will be automatically renewed for Jan. 1 are not yet included in these totals.

“With a record 6.4 million consumers selecting plans for Jan. 1, Americans are once again proving that marketplace coverage is vital to them and their families,” she said. “The marketplace is strong. … The doomsday predictions were wrong.”

Burwell, who is a West Virginia native, said the Mountain State has deeply benefited from Medicaid expansion and, compared to other states, has experienced one of the largest drops in rates of uninsured residents.

“The state (of West Virginia) suffers from a difficult opioid problem. This coverage makes a dramatic and important benefit to them,” she said.

Slavitt said, “Ohio has 14 percent more enrollment than in last year. It went from an 11.2-percent to a 6-percent uninsured rate.”

Citing an Urban Institute study, Slavitt said almost 1 million Ohioans would lose coverage if the Affordable Care Act is repealed.

Burwell said the study was based on Congress’ potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act and delay to replace the insurance system.

She said the study indicated that a repeal – along the lines of what Congress considered last year – could result in 30 million Americans losing health insurance.

Observing that confusion “creates a headwind,” Burwell said the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has received 30,000 calls about the repeal issue.

Regarding the Affordable Care Act’s future, she said, “Right now we’re hopeful that the conversation will shift from rhetoric to reality – the reality of what this means to real people across the country, people who get their insurance through the marketplace or through their jobs.”

Burwell said even though the deadline to obtain coverage starting Jan. 1 has passed, open enrollment for 2017 continues through Jan. 31.

“Now, we want uninsured Americans who have not yet signed up to know they have not missed their chance to get covered. … With most marketplace consumers able to find coverage for less than $75 per month in premiums, uninsured Americans should join the millions of Americans who’ve already gone to healthcare.gov to check out their options,” Burwell said.

She said Dec. 15 – the original deadline for Jan. 1 coverage – was the biggest day of any open enrollment ever, with 670,000 plan selections, breaking the Dec. 15, 2015 record of 600,000.