Obamacare Enrollees Cost States Up To $920 Apiece

Image: Obamacare Enrollees Cost States Up To $920 Apiece A Covered California agent helps a couple with their choice for insurance coverage on March 31.

Friday, 02 May 2014 09:07 AM

By Melanie Batley

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States with their own Obamacare exchanges spent far more than the federal government on getting clients signed up for the new healthcare program, a new study says.

According to an analysis by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, state spending per enrollee on customer-assistance programs varied significantly, from $920 per person in Hawaii, for example, to just $16 in Florida, the National Journal reports.

"The availability of federal money and the type of marketplace were huge factors in the amount states spent to enroll the uninsured," Katherine Hempstead, who leads coverage issues at the foundation, told the Journal.

"The real question, which can only be answered in time, is how big of a role states' consumer assistance programs played in overall enrollment success."

States running their own exchanges have greater discretion than the federal government about how much to spend on their assistance programs.

Overall, states spent far more than the federal government on consumer assistance, with 50 percent of the total expenditure to help 31 percent of all uninsured, compared to programs for assistance with HealthCare.gov which accounted for 33 percent of funding for 63 percent of the uninsured, according to the Journal.

The state that spent the most on consumer assistance was California, which shelled out more than $61.5 million. At the same time, Covered California, the state's exchange, also enrolled the most clients of any of the states running their own exchanges.

By comparison, Wyoming which is participating in the federal exchange, spent the least on consumer assistance at roughly $900,000, and enrolled 11,970 residents, the fourth-lowest result of all the states.

Consumer assistance programs are intended to help customers understand and enroll in coverage under Obamacare, and include the Navigator program, the In-Person Assister program, and Certified Application Counselors.

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