As many as 2.1 million people will start their experience with Obamacare tomorrow.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said on a press call Tuesday that as of Dec. 28, 2.1 million people had enrolled in a private insurance plan through the Affordable Care Act health insurance exchanges. Roughly half enrolled through the federal marketplace.
Sebelius added that 3.9 million Americans were determined eligible for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program in October and November.
“We’re working to ensure any American who wants to enroll in coverage between now and March 31 is able to do so,” Sebelius said.
The numbers fall far short of the initial goal to hit 7 million enrollees by March 31, but December saw a steady spike in enrollment after HealthCare.gov was fixed. With open enrollment halfway over, Sebelius said they’re encouraged by the totals.
The number of people who have actually paid premiums and will be able to use their coverage starting Jan. 1 is unclear. HHS officials also declined to offer specifics about the enrolled population — such as racial, ethnic, and age demographics — as well as the number who will benefit from the premium tax subsidies designed to make insurance more affordable for low-income consumers.
HHS officials also said they did not know how many of the enrollees were previously uninsured and how many were transferring from previously canceled coverage. They fielded 2,400 calls to the special hot line for consumers with canceled policies.
And while there are no new issues with the consumer “834” data forms that are sent from the exchange to the insurance companies, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services spokeswoman Julie Bataille said the process to remedy faulty transmissions is ongoing.
Consumers who signed up for insurance through the exchanges should call their insurance company to verify that their premium payment has been received and that they are officially enrolled in coverage.
Once enrolled, consumers will have an insurance card to present when receiving services. Those who need services before they receive their card should ask their insurance company about other proofs of purchase. In the short term, CVS and Walgreens will accept other ways of confirming coverage if individuals have not yet received their cards, Sebelius said.
HHS officials added that consumers should verify with their insurance company which health services are covered by their company before seeking treatment. Some 10,000 customer-service trained representatives will be on hand at the call centers on New Year’s Day for consumers with further questions.
What We're Following See More »
Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
“We haven’t seen a true leftist since FDR, so many millions are coming out of the woodwork to vote for Bernie Sanders; he is the Occupy movement now come to life in the political arena.” So says Bill Maher in his Hollywood Reporter cover story (more a stream-of-consciousness riff than an essay, actually). Conservative states may never vote for a socialist in the general election, but “this stuff has never been on the table, and these voters have never been activated.” Maher saves most of his bile for Donald Trump and Sarah Palin, writing that by nominating Palin as vice president “John McCain is the one who opened the Book of the Dead and let the monsters out.” And Trump is picking up where Palin left off.