The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

February 13, 2014

Most states lag in health insurance sign-ups

(Continued)

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- to 34-year-olds before the end of open enrollment on March 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 sign-ups 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 sign-ups represent more than 1 1/2 times its goal. Other populous states among the top performers included Florida, Michigan, and North Carolina.

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