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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.

Join the discussion

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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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Del February 13 2014 at 9:41 AM

My big one question is this two parts, Why did all these people that are signing up for this not buy insurance before obama care, where are they all of a sudden getting the extra money to make these monthly payments?

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2 replies
mcneas1005 Del February 13 2014 at 9:55 AM

If the truth was exposed, the majority of these people were receiving Medicaid prior to Obamacare. Please tell us how many dollars have been received from tyhse people who have signed up.

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usapaydirt Del February 13 2014 at 9:58 AM

Health Insurance priced itself out of the market and out of reach of most consumers years back. To save the Insurance Companies loss, enter big daddy government with a forced mandate requiring every man, woman and child to Purchase insurance or be fined under penalty of law, and the one's who can afford it the least will pay the highest deductibles ...

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Craig February 13 2014 at 7:18 AM

If you are young don't sign up for the insurance, if you have a catastrophic health issue go to the hospital and when you receive your bill just file bankrupcy it's cheaper.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
2 replies
kcarthey Craig February 13 2014 at 7:29 AM

Wow, sounds like you've raised a bunch of truly irresponsible kids...or maybe you are one yourself. File bankruptcy and see your credit rating trashed for a decade, be denied a job anywhere but a burger joint, take the bus because you won't get a car loan. Real smart.

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Tony Craig February 13 2014 at 10:20 AM

another individual who to the world leaves no doubt as to the intelligence(low)

Flag Reply +1 rate up
kerrlakeroo February 13 2014 at 7:21 AM

I wonder why the current administration hasn't released numbers on how many have actually paid their partial premiums. Chances are the number that EVER pay anything into this abortion will be miniscule.

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Fraginals5@aol.c February 13 2014 at 7:29 AM

80% of those signing up are covered by government. That means only 20% have sign up really. According to my family members their insurance premiums is unaffordable and the deductibles ridiculous. As always, the ones loosing are the real hard working people.

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1 reply
TRACY Fraginals5@aol.c February 13 2014 at 7:43 AM

I agree. We pay over 5K a year for our health insurance premium and the insurance keeps raising the deductibles and won't cover a lot of things. Our prescription coverage is ridiculous. We are only allows to use CVS pharmacy and now our insurance won't cover a 1 month supply of our daughter's asthma medication. We have to purchase 3 months at a time...making it very expensive when we do need a refill. Now if my husband and I divorced, I would qualify for medicade for my daughter and the state would pick up 100% of the tab. It's sad that the honest and hard working people are the one's who always seem to get screwed in the end.

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leslie February 13 2014 at 7:41 AM

so 1 out of 5 is supposed to pay for the other 4 out of 5 and they call this working well! Gotta wonder if these people were born complete idiots or did they grow into one!

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5 replies
wbearl February 13 2014 at 7:42 AM

I live in a Blue State, a very Blue. Yet we are lagging. Part of the problem is our roll out was as good as Washington DC;s, must be a Democratic Traite. Yesterday on the news they said that we are so far behind that we will have to subsidize the Insurance Companys, but as usual they don't know where that money will come from. Guess that makes them pretty stupid, I know where the money will come from, out of my pocket.

Flag Reply +8 rate up
giyank1 February 13 2014 at 7:55 AM

The system in Massachusettes stinks. The MA Health Connector system does not work. We tried since November to get on. Web site wouldn't get you past password, on hold for ever with no pick up. Finally in Feb. was able to apply with someone walking us threw the sign up. The MA Health Connector worked fine before the change to ObamaCare.

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dave1marine February 13 2014 at 7:57 AM

Buried halfway down the article, we see that of the over 3 million that have enrolled, Big Daddy Government DOSEN'T KNOW how many have actually PAID.
Now that's either a blatent LIE, or a neon sign declaring just how incompetent Big Daddy is.
I can just IMAGINE what the shareholders of a major corporation like say Amazon, would be telling the CEO if he told them he DIDN'T know how much revenue the company had taken in over the last 3 months.
The whole damn thing is just one huge SCAM perpetrated on the American people.

Flag Reply +13 rate up
4 replies
bhtxd004 February 13 2014 at 8:23 AM

Obamacare: = un-insurable can now get insurance,,however most people are faced with loss of current coverage, loss of job or hours cut, drain on personal finances and the economy, higher premiums, huge deductibles that have to be paid before you can be treated, if you could not afford insurance before you still cant afford it, if you like your politicians you can keep them if you dont you know what to do

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3 replies
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