Missouri exchange plan enrollment numbers lagging

751 picked exchange health plans in first month

During the first month of open enrollment, 751 Missourians successfully selected a health insurance plan through the federal health insurance marketplace, according to a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) report released Wednesday.

Nationwide, more than 106,000 individuals selected a plan.

Enrollment began on healthcare.gov Oct. 1.

The health insurance marketplace or exchange is part of a key provision of President Barack Obama’s 2010 Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. The law aims to require everyone to have health insurance in 2014 or otherwise pay a fine.

States were given the option of operating their own exchange—a marketplace where individuals can go to purchase health insurance—or to opt in to a federally run exchange.

Missouri is one of 36 states not operating its own health insurance exchange.

The Obama Administration originally estimated 500,000 individuals would enroll in health insurance plans on healthcare.gov in the first month of enrollment, and 7 million people would enroll by the end of enrollment on March 31, 2014.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the agency expects the numbers to grow as the exchange website, healthcare.gov, continues to make steady improvements.

“There’s no doubt the level of interest is strong,” she said.

According to the HHS report, the marketplace website had nearly 27 million unique visitors the first month, even though it has plagued users with glitches and errors since its Oct. 1 launch.

HHS officials and Obama have apologized to the nation for the website’s shaky rollout and are optimistic about its future.

“The promise of quality affordable coverage is increasingly becoming reality for this first wave of applicants to the Health Insurance Marketplaces,” Sebelius said.

Others aren’t as optimistic.

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said the numbers confirm what everyone already knew.

“Obamacare is a train wreck,” he said. “President Obama should keep his promise to the American people and make the health care system work again — a system that for most people was working a year ago, and for a whole lot of people, won’t be working a year from now.”

Earlier coverage, via AP:

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Only 751 Missouri residents have selected a health insurance plan through the federally run online marketplace during the first month of its troubled launch, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported Wednesday.

The insurance exchange had more than 14,000 completed applications from Missouri between Oct. 1 and Nov. 2, seeking coverage for nearly 28,000 people.

Missouri and 35 other states are allowing the federal government to run their health insurance exchange. The shopping site is a key part of the 2010 health care law signed by President Barack Obama and is intended to help people without employer-sponsored health insurance find coverage at affordable rates.

The rollout has been rocky from the start, and the federal agency reported Wednesday that fewer than 27,000 people from the 36 states have signed up using the federal website.

Missouri largely has taken a hands-off approach toward health insurance exchanges. The Republican-led Legislature referred a measure to the ballot approved last year by voters that bars state officials from setting up an insurance exchange or providing "assistance or resources of any kind" to the federal government to implement one unless such actions are authorized by a state law or required by a federal law.

Missouri had about 835,000 uninsured people in 2010 according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Comments

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Please review our Policies and Procedures before registering or commenting

News Tribune - comments