More than 7.5 million people have signed up for Obamacare, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told lawmakers at a hearing Thursday morning.
The latest enrollment tally includes the 7.1 million Americans who signed up through the exchanges before midnight on March 31 — the official end of the open enrollment period. It also includes an additional 400,000 people who have taken advantage of the special enrollment period for health insurance shoppers who had trouble signing up through the online exchanges. That special enrollment period is scheduled to end April 15.
Sebelius also said about 12 million people have been determined eligible for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
Sebelius’s announcement comes before the administration releases a monthly report that will detail the demographic breakdown of enrollees through March. This will be crucial to understanding how the price of premiums will shape up for next year. The administration has stressed it needs a strong mix of young and healthy people to offset the costs of premiums for older, sicker individuals.
Through February, people ages 18-34 made up about 25 percent of total enrollment, well below the administration’s 40 percent benchmark. However, health policy experts caution that the White House’s goals aren’t necessarily an accurate way to assess the law and gauge how it will impact premiums next year.
“It doesn’t matter that we meet the White House’s goals, it matters that enrollment actually reflects what the insurers were anticipating, and that’s something we don’t know,” Adrianna McIntyre, managing editor of The Incidental Economists said on BloggingHeads.”The media has been relying on White House projections and CBO projections, but that’s not actually a very helpful metric to rely on.”
It will also eventually be important to know how many people included in the enrollment numbers have actually purchased plans, as well as how many were previously uninsured.
Insurers estimate that about 80 to 90 percent of enrollees have paid their first premium. Sebelius has separately cited similar figures, though they haven’t been officially confirmed.
Separately, an independent report by the Rand Corporation estimates that about one third of those who enrolled on the exchanges were previously uninsured.
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