KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

More Than 1 Million People Signed Up For Health Plans In January

According to Obama administration officials, the overall enrollment figure, which tops three million, reflects people who enrolled in coverage through the federal or state exchanges from October through January.

The New York Times: 3.3 Million Enrolled On Health Marketplaces, Including More Young People, Government Says
The administration reported a modest uptick in the enrollment of young adults, a group avidly sought by insurers because they are usually healthier and need fewer costly medical services. In a new report on enrollment, the administration said that 1.9 million people had selected health plans in the federal marketplace from October through January, while 1.4 million chose plans in state-run insurance exchanges (Pear, 2/12).

The New York Times: Over 1 Million Added To Rolls Of Health Plan
More than 1.1 million people signed up for health insurance through federal and state marketplaces in January, according to the government, and the number of young people enrolling increased faster than that of any other group. The results were hailed by Obama administration officials, who expressed increased optimism that they had overcome their initial stumbles and erased many doubts about the viability of the health care law (Shear and Abelson, 2/12).

USA Today: More Than 1M Signed Up For Health Coverage In January
Sebelius called the statistics "very, very encouraging news. We're seeing a healthy growth in enrollment." Young people between the ages of 18 and 34, who are considered essential to the long-term financial health of the insurance market, went from 24% of enrollees between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31 to 27% in January, according to the new records. … The Obama administration isn't concerned about the number of young people who have signed up for insurance, said Julie Bataille, communications director for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The number of young insurance customers is "on track" with expectations, she said (Kennedy, 2/12).

Los Angeles Times: Obamacare Enrollment Continues To Increase
The national total was still short of the administration’s goal of 4.4 million enrolled by the end of January. It remains unclear how many people who have selected a health plan have actually paid and how many did not have insurance previously. But the latest report provides new evidence that the marketplaces are gaining traction after a disastrous launch last fall (Levey, 2/12).

The Washington Post: Health Insurance Enrollment On Target In January
Still, the lingering imprint of those early problems remains visible in the new report. Overall, the 3.3 million people who have signed up for coverage are about 1 million fewer than federal officials had anticipated by the end of January. That difference dovetails with a revised prediction last week by congressional budget analysts — that 6 million Americans, instead of 7 million, are likely to get insurance through the marketplaces by the time this year’s sign-up period ends March 31 (Goldstein, 2/12).

Politico: More Than 3 Million Signed Up Through Obamacare Exchanges, Officials Say
Key data is still missing. The numbers don’t show how many of the sign-ups on the state and federal exchanges have actually paid their premiums. Nor do officials know how many were previously uninsured (Cheney and Millman, 2/12).

Kaiser Health News: Report: Nearly 3.3 Million Americans Have Enrolled In Private Obamacare Plans
But the number of young adults signing up continues to lag expectations, which could impact insurance premiums next year. Insurance industry officials have been closely watching the mix of customers to make sure they get enough healthy people to balance the cost of covering older Americans who generally require more medical care (Galewitz, 2/12).

NPR: After January Surge, More Than 3 Million Have Enrolled In Obamacare
January was a miserable month for weather, but the wintry blasts in much of the country weren't enough to stop people from shopping for health insurance. More than 1.1 million people signed up for coverage through state and federal health exchanges in January, according to a just-released report, bringing the total to just shy of 3.3 million people (Rovner, 2/12).

The Wall Street Journal: Health Exchanges Hit 3.3 Million Enrollees Through January
But Republican lawmakers said there was no reason for the Obama administration to cheer, given the continuing troubles with the 2010 federal health-care law. They noted independent reports indicating that many of the people using the exchanges already had been buying insurance on their own (Radnofsky, 2/12).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Most States Lag In Health Insurance Sign-Ups
Most states are still lagging when it comes to sign-ups under President Barack Obama’s health care law, but an Associated Press analysis of numbers reported Wednesday finds a dozen high-achievers getting ahead of the game. Huge disparities are emerging in how well states are living up to federal enrollment targets, and that will help determine if the White House reaches its unofficial goal of having 7 million signed up by the end of March, six weeks away (2/12).

ABC News: Obamacare Enrollments At 3.3 Million, Nearly Halfway To Goal
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 (Larotonda, 2/12).

CNN: Obamacare Sign-Ups Jump To 3.3 Million
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office last week projected that 6 million people would enroll in the exchanges for coverage for 2014. That estimate was previously downgraded from 7 million because of the vast technical problems that plagued the initial roll out of the exchanges (Luhby, 2/12).

Politico: Obamacare Finally Clears The Tower
There are still reasons to be skeptical of the numbers, and health care experts warn that the administration still has a lot of work to do by the end of March — when enrollment ends for this year — to get the right mix of customers so there are enough healthy people to pay for the sicker ones. But the new report is good enough that it might reset Washington’s expectations: maybe Obamacare isn’t going to be a train wreck after all. Maybe it’ll be more like one of those Metro trains that runs kind of slowly, and sometimes stops in the middle of the tracks for no apparent reason, but eventually gets you where you need to go (Nather, 2/12).

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