The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

February 13, 2014

Most states lag in health insurance sign-ups

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 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.

Connecticut is the nation's top performer, 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. Residents are signing up despite strong political opposition to the health care law in some of those states.

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.

January marked the first time since new health insurance markets opened last fall that a national monthly enrollment target was met.

All in all, from Oct. 1 through Feb. 1, nearly 3.3 million people signed up.

"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. And they don't know how many have sealed the deal by paying their premiums.

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