Federal and state marketplace enrollment nears 3 million

But challenges remain because many uninsured don't know about financial help to purchase coverage

McClatchy Washington BureauJanuary 24, 2014 

US NEWS HEALTHCARE 5 CH

A screen at the BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina station at Concord Mills alerts shoppers to the fact that health care reform is here on Tuesday, October 1, 2013, as it is the first day of enrollment for Obamacare. (Jeff Siner/Charlotte Observer/MCT)

JEFF SINER — MCT

— With just over two months remaining in a six-month open enrollment period, nearly three million people have now signed up for health insurance on the federal and state insurance marketplaces, the Obama administration reported Friday.

The estimate means that roughly 800,000 people nationwide have enrolled in individual coverage in January with one more week remaining.

 

The numbers indicate that interest in coverage remains strong following a massive enrollment surge in December when people scrambled to sign up for coverage that began on New Years Day.

 

 "As our outreach efforts kick into even higher gear, we anticipate these numbers will continue to grow, particularly as we reach even more uninsured young adults so that they know that new options and new ways to help eligible individuals pay for their premium are now available, thanks to the Affordable Care Act," wrote Marilyn Tavenner, administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, in a blog on Friday.

 

Those outreach efforts will be crucial to reaching the administration's original goal of enrolling 7 million people into coverage by March 31 when the marketplace enrollment period ends.

 

Recent surveys suggest the administration and their army of supporters will have their work cut out for them.

 

Nearly 70 percent of uninsured Americans don’t know even know about the tax credits and other federal assistance that can help them pay for marketplace coverage, according to a recent survey of the uninsured released by Enroll America, a national coalition working on behalf of Obamacare.

 

Another survey of the uninsured released this week by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation showed less than 40 percent of uninsured adults expect to have insurance this year, even though the Affordable Care Act requires that most Americans obtain health insurance or pay a fine for noncompliance.

 

The survey, conducted by the Urban Institute, found that many of these adults don't believe they qualify for the subsidies nor for coverage under Medicaid, the national health plan for low-income Americans.

 

“The survey respondents’ relative lack of knowledge about the availability of free or subsidized health insurance illustrates the need for increased outreach,” said Katherine Hempstead, who leads coverage issues at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “People should know that help is available so they can get high-quality, affordable health care.”

 

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