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Most states lag in health insurance sign-ups

By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Kevin Vineys

WASHINGTON (AP) - 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 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.

Connecticut is the nation's over-achiever, signing up more than twice the number of residents it had been projected to enroll by the end of January. Massachusetts, which pioneered the approach Obama took in his law, is at the bottom of the list having met only 5 percent of its target.

Six Republican-led states - Florida, Idaho, Maine, Michigan, North Carolina, and Wisconsin - are on pace or better.

The administration said Wednesday about 1 million people signed up for private insurance under the health law in January, extending a turnaround from early days when a dysfunctional website frustrated consumers. There were fewer enrollments than in December, but a drop-off had been expected.

The new national numbers show that nearly 3.3 million people signed up from last Oct. 1 through Feb. 1.

"It's very, very encouraging news," said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "We're seeing a healthy growth in enrollment." Still, the goal of 7 million by the end of March seems like a stretch.

Also, officials are unable to say how many of those who signed up were previously uninsured - the ultimate test of Obama's hard-fought overhaul. They also don't know how many have sealed the deal by paying their premiums.

The numbers showed an uptick in the number of young adults signing up, now 25 percent of the total. Officials expect a last-minute surge of 18-34 year olds before the end of open enrollment on Mar. 31. Their premiums are needed to help with the cost of care for older adults.

Overall, 4 in 5 of those signing up were eligible for financial assistance with their premiums or out-of-pocket expenses.

"Enrollment will continue to increase because it's easier to sign up," said Lynn Blewett, director of the State Health Data Access Assistance Center at the University of Minnesota. "What everybody hopes is that we see more young people and families with young children enrolling, to give the insurance pools a healthy mix of younger and older people."

While the national numbers are improving, the latest report raises questions about what's going on in the states. Ultimately Obama's law will play out differently in each state, since insurance premiums are set at the local level.

The AP's analysis compared the latest cumulative sign-up numbers for each state with targets spelled out in a Sept. 5, 2013 memo to Sebelius that the AP obtained months ago.

In the memo, HHS experts projected that 4.4 million people would have signed up by the end of January. But that was before the disastrous launch of the federal enrollment website on Oct 1. Though it has been repaired, the website was out of commission most of its first month. Several states running their own websites are still having technology problems.

Nationally, the nearly 3.3 million enrolled represent 75 percent of the signups that HHS had originally hoped to have by the end of January.

Among the states meeting or exceeding expectations, New York was the biggest. Its 211,290 signups represent more than one-and-a-half times its goal. Other populous states among the top performers included Florida, Michigan, and North Carolina.

California, which leads all the states in enrollment, had met 90 percent of its goal with 728,086 signed up.

Texas, which has the highest proportion of uninsured residents of any state, was subpar. It met 53 percent of its goal.

Surprisingly, the worst performers include four jurisdictions where Obama's law has strong support: Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon and the District of Columbia. The three states on that list have all had problems with their enrollment websites.

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MARK AND PATTY February 13 2014 at 12:31 PM

I had health ins. before obamas catastrophy, now I have none. I cant afford his so called affordable health care. impeach this fool.

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1 reply to MARK AND PATTY's comment
normde February 13 2014 at 4:00 PM

Yep, obviously a Republican. It works fine for Democrats.

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Betty Ann February 13 2014 at 11:21 AM

I have had a huge problem with the website. I was told that there is a glitch in the system by one of their workers. GLITCH...if I'm not mistaken the administration is saying it is working fine.

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ez760 February 13 2014 at 11:21 AM

its not the enrollment process , its the cost

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fordz223 February 13 2014 at 11:18 AM

Obama made this awfull sceme and the mess he made to this country
WAKE UP it is time to impeach him

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Roberta February 13 2014 at 11:15 AM

The people in some of these republican states do not realize they can still sign up even though SC and others have no marketplaces. Go to healthcare.gov

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patriot1too February 13 2014 at 10:54 AM

So few people have not signed up for this fake obama insurance because it is not affordable for anyone. No one will benifit from this awfull obama fake insurance scheme. Its all about the govorment gaining more control, about the big brother IRS fineing people, garnishing wages, garnishing your tax returns, seizeing your property, seizeing your drivers licence etc. Nazi like things that our own president is trying to pass off as a benifit. BS. Wake up America. Dont drink obama kool aid.

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mark February 13 2014 at 10:50 AM

thank god i am a veteran and i dont have to pay anything.to all veterans you need to enroll at your VA so you will be exempt from obamacare.i think you can enroll online too.make sure you have your DD214 handy.maybe with all veterans signed-up with the VA,we can tell obama and his cronies that they can stick obamacare where the sun doesn't shine.

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3 replies to mark's comment
usapaydirt February 13 2014 at 10:45 AM

If you like your Democrat , You can keep your Democrat ...... However if you give a damn about your Country and it's future, You'll cast a midterm, vote to get them out....

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Roberta February 13 2014 at 11:21 AM

I will vote to get the republicans out of the "do nothing congress"! vote 2014.

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maryvetter February 13 2014 at 10:33 AM

I've just read the first page of comments, and the responses were contributed by individuals who were not thoroughly informed of the facts of The Affordable Care Act. It covers persons who cannot qualify because of previous health conditions, they are working at jobs that do not offer health insurance or cannot afford to pay for insurance and pay for housing, food and transportation to there minimum wage job.

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2 replies to maryvetter's comment
Jim February 13 2014 at 11:14 AM

Or for people like me who had health insurance (that I liked) and received a letter telling me it would be cancelled. Now I'm offered WORSE coverage for MORE money through the ACA and have lost my doctor.
Sad times when the government can step in and take away ones insurance and doctor on a bill passed by lies. Obama lied to me and America when he told us we could keep our insurance and our doctors. I have zero respect for the man.

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normde February 13 2014 at 4:03 PM

You wouldn't happen to be a Republican, would you Jim.? That's the way it works for them.

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efvann February 13 2014 at 11:17 AM

Kind of mixed up, aren't you maryvetter? The law applies to EVERYONE, not only those whose conditions were as you stated. It is all of the people who take care to stay healthy and care for their physical wellness that are going to get stuck with the bills for those who don't and didn't. As for working at jobs that don't offer health insurance, they are at the bottom of the pile. Try looking for skilled employment and you will have insurance. Either that or a smart businessman who knows that having avoided the pits that the ACA has put there to destroy the US economy has reduced his workforce and/or their hours.
All of the problems of the ACA were totally predictible and will never be solved since it forces people to do things that they didn't do before and will continue to avoid.
Note that MORE THAN 80% (4 of 5 for those mathematically challenged) are people who are being subsidized. Which means the WORKING TAXPAYER is going to pay a lot more to cover them. Nothing new there!
As well, the people to balance the pools, the healthy young ones, are avoiding signing up as if the ACA is a death sentence. Which, in a manner of speaking, it is. First financially, and then ultimately physically.
Like everything else the government gets involved in (most illegally), this is and will continue to be, both a job and economy destroyer.
I have absolutely NO intention of expanding my workforce now, nor will I give any hours beyond what will require my subsidizing employee health care. IF it comes to the point that it must be done, it will be done at the cost of the employee's bottom line, most of whom, after all is said and done, make about the same as the boss does. And without the paperwork or financial risk of being a business owner.
You can thank you local Democrat politician for that. That AND your economy staggering along for the foreseeable future. (If you believe the economy is recovering well and heading up, you most likely also believe in the Tooth Fairy and Peter Pan.
Good luck with your lives. Luck is precisely what you're going to need with the ACA both in front of you and on your back.
(You might want to explore precisely HOW "insurance" works. You MIGHT learn something about "pooled risk" and the actuarial tables that make it all work. Or not.)

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endmillll February 13 2014 at 10:31 AM

You kinda have too love them welfare bandits too they always find away too get free health care..

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