California Health Care Sign-Ups Exceed Projections

SACRAMENTO (AP) — A late surge of sign-ups pushed California’s health insurance exchange about 1 million enrollees beyond the original projections of the Obama administration, the agency that runs the marketplace announced Thursday.

Nearly 1.4 million Californians selected a policy through the state’s online marketplace through Tuesday’s end of open enrollment.

Still unknown is how many of those who signed up for insurance plans have paid their first month’s premium, which will allow them to begin receiving health coverage, and whether the mix of enrollees will be sufficient to satisfy insurance companies that are participating in the exchange.

Insurers said they needed strong sign-ups from younger and healthier people to balance out the older and sicker consumers who sign up for coverage under the expanded benefits of the federal Affordable Care Act. Older people generally need more health care services and are more costly to insure.

“We are proud of what California has achieved, but recognize this is only the beginning of a long road of expanding affordable coverage to all Californians,” Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee said in a statement.

The agency released the numbers during a news conference in Sacramento.

Covered California extended open enrollment for two weeks beyond the original March 31 deadline because its computer system and call centers could not handle the crush of people rushing to sign up for health coverage at the last minute.

During that two-week extension, more than 205,000 Californians signed up for coverage.

An additional 1.9 million gained coverage through Medi-Cal, California’s version of Medicaid. The state opted to accept the expansion of the low-income health insurance program that was offered under the federal health reform law.

 

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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