Health care enrollment may only reach 5.4 million

McClatchy Washington BureauMarch 12, 2014 

— Only 5.4 million people are on track to purchase marketplace health coverage by the time open enrollment ends on March 31, according to a new analysis from Avalere Health.

After the Congressional Budget Office predicted 7 million Americans would sign up for coverage, they downsized their estimate to 6 million when technical problems with the HealthCare.gov website slowed enrollment in October and November. And even though the website has been functioning well since December, those early problems have cast a large shadow over enrollments ever since.

More than 4.2 million Americans have already purchased marketplace coverage. But using the enrollment experience of the Medicare prescription drug program as a template, Avalere projects that 22 percent, or 1.2 million people will purchase marketplace coverage by March 31. That would bring total enrollment 5.4 million people.

“The Administration is conducting aggressive outreach in March in an effort to boost enrollment. However, success of exchanges in 2014 will depend less on the size of the market and more on the risk profile of enrollees,” said Caroline Pearson, vice president at Avalere Health.

If a sizable share of the new enrollees are younger and presumably healthy, it would help keep premium costs lower in 2015.

Among states, California, Florida, Idaho, North Carolina, and Washington have already surpassed their projected enrollment numbers for 2014.

To see a state-by-state breakdown for marketplace enrollment, go the Avalere analysis at http://bit.ly/1nNENUS and scroll down to “download PDF.”

Email: tpugh@mcclatchydc.com; Twitter: @TonyPughDC.

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