4,124 Missourians picked insurance exchange plans

By CHRIS BLANK

Associated Press

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Several thousand Missourians have selected a health insurance plan through the federally run online marketplace, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported Wednesday.

Figures covering Oct. 1 through Nov. 30 show that 4,124 Missouri residents had signed up through the website. Just 751 Missourians had selected a health insurance plan during the first month of the website's troubled launch.

The online shopping site is a key part of the 2010 federal health care law signed by President Barack Obama and is intended to help people without employer-sponsored health insurance find coverage at affordable rates. Consumers face a Dec. 23 enrollment deadline if they want to have coverage on Jan. 1.

Federal officials reported Wednesday that through end of November there have been 31,474 applications from Missouri seeking coverage for 62,964 people. In addition to those who have selected a health insurance plan, there are 6,487 people who have been determined to be eligible for Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program. However, the determination does not mean they are enrolled because state government is responsible for that.

Nationally, the federal agency reported that 364,682 people have signed up for private coverage through the website, which is less than one-third of the 1.2 million people originally projected to be enrolled by the end of November. Enrollment is 137,204 people in the 36 states served by the federal website. That includes Missouri, which largely has taken a hands-off approach to the health insurance exchange.

The Republican-led Legislature referred a measure to the ballot that voters approved last year barring Missouri officials from setting up an insurance exchange or providing "assistance or resources of any kind" to the federal government to implement one in the state unless, such actions are authorized by a state law or required by a federal law.

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