California’s Obamacare Enrollments Starting to Soar

Obamacare supporters react to the U.S. Supreme Court decision to uphold President Obama's health care law, on June 28, 2012 in Washington, DC. Today the high court upheld the whole healthcare law of the Obama Administration.
National Journal
Clara Ritger
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Clara Ritger
Nov. 13, 2013, 4:40 p.m.

Cali­for­nia’s surge in Obama­care en­roll­ment in Novem­ber could be the first sign for the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment that high­er par­ti­cip­a­tion in the new health in­sur­ance ex­changes is on the ho­ri­zon.

The Health and Hu­man Ser­vices De­part­ment re­por­ted Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon that between Oct. 1 and Nov. 2, Cali­for­nia en­rolled more than 35,000 in­di­vidu­als. The ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or of Covered Cali­for­nia, Peter Lee, re­por­ted late Wed­nes­day that as of Nov. 12, 60,000 Cali­for­ni­ans had signed up for in­sur­ance, in­creas­ing to a rate of al­most 2,500 en­rollees per day in Novem­ber.

“Covered Cali­for­nia’s goal is to in­sure every Cali­for­ni­an,” Lee said. “I am con­fid­ent that we are go­ing to hit that tar­get of 500,000 to 700,000 people by the end of March.”

Cali­for­nia has the highest un­in­sured pop­u­la­tion in the coun­try — roughly 7 mil­lion people. The state op­ted to run its own ex­change and is one of 14 states not us­ing the fed­er­al site, Health­Care.gov.

“We are pleased with where we are today,” Lee said of the state’s web­site, Covered­Ca.com.

Covered Cali­for­nia and the state’s De­part­ment of Health Care Ser­vices con­duc­ted a sur­vey of people who com­pleted the en­roll­ment pro­cess in the last three weeks of Oc­to­ber. The sur­vey found 70 per­cent of con­sumers thought the en­roll­ment pro­cess was easy to com­plete, and 88 per­cent re­por­ted find­ing enough in­form­a­tion to de­term­ine which health plan was right for them.

Cali­for­nia’s en­roll­ment num­bers sur­passed the total en­roll­ment in the 36 states that de­pend on Health­Care.gov.

In total, 26,794 people signed up for cov­er­age in the fed­er­al mar­ket­place as of Nov. 2. HHS Sec­ret­ary Kath­leen Se­beli­us said she ex­pects a late peak of ap­plic­a­tions.

“We’re con­fid­ent that as more people across this coun­try learn about their op­tions, more people will find a plan that meets their needs and en­roll in cov­er­age,” Se­beli­us said.

Both HHS and Covered Cali­for­nia defined “en­roll­ment” as se­lect­ing an in­sur­ance plan in the mar­ket­place, mean­ing people who have not yet paid their premi­ums and com­pleted the cov­er­age pro­cess with their in­surer are coun­ted in the totals.

As of Nov. 2, a total of 106,185 Amer­ic­ans in both the state and fed­er­al ex­changes had chosen health in­sur­ance plans made newly avail­able by the Af­ford­able Care Act.

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