Missouri, Illinois Beat Obamacare Enrollment Estimates

Friday, 02 May 2014 10:51 AM

By Drew MacKenzie

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President Barack Obama got a boost on Friday with the news that two states have surpassed their total health insurance enrollment goals.

Missouri and Illinois beat the enrollee estimates that the Department of Health and Human Services had projected last September shortly before Obamacare was officially launched, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

The department has announced that 152,335 Missourians signed up on HealthCare.gov, the online federal healthcare insurance marketplace, while it had initially only projected 118,000 enrollments for the state.

Despite the troubled rollout of the website, the figures show a 29 percent increase over the estimates.

The Post-Dispatch said that Illinois also easily surpassed its goal, with 217,492 enrolling under HealthCare.gov, a 52 percent increase over the department estimate last year of only 143,000.

Calling the news exciting, Ryan Barker, vice president of health policy at the Missouri Foundation for Health, which runs the state’s enrollment program Cover Missouri, said he was especially thrilled that 30 percent of Missouri enrollees were between the ages of 18 and 34, which is 2 percent higher than the national average.

The government needs young and healthy people to sign up under Obamacare to balance the health costs of older and sicker enrollees, and thus keep down the price of insurance premiums.

Barker told the Post-Dispatch that the enrollment numbers in his state should mean that there will not be a large increase in premiums for next year. He also noted that 85 percent of Missourians received subsidies compared to the national average of 80 percent.

But Barker would have liked to have seen better sign-up numbers for blacks and Latinos. Only 2 percent of Missouri enrollees were Latinos, and about 9 percent were blacks, compared to the national averages of 10 percent for Latinos and 16 percent for African-Americans.

"I think that tells us what we might have known is that nationally we saw there was a struggle to reach out to the Hispanic community," Barker said. "So that really just gives us some direction as we move forward in tailoring some of our efforts towards those populations."

The boost for Obama’s signature domestic policy comes one day after the House Energy and Commerce Committee said research data showed that only 67 percent of Obamacare enrollees, about 2.45 million Americans, who have signed up on HealthCare.gov have actually paid their premiums.

But White House press secretary Jay Carney disputed the figures, saying the report "isn’t on the level."

A total of 3.65 million Americans had obtained coverage through HealthCare.gov by the April 15 enrollment deadline, the committee report says.

The Post-Dispatch report did not reveal what percentage of enrollees from Missouri and Illinois had paid their premiums.

The White House maintains that, overall, 8 million Americans have signed up for Obamacare at the federal and state exchanges.

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