The final stats came in for the first open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act, and Health and Human Services officials took a victory lap pointing to the big number of people who signed up for Obamacare during March.
More than 54 percent of those who now have insurance through the Affordable Care Act are women. What happened to the men?
In all more than 8 million enrolled from October through March. Other big numbers include:
- 3 million under 26 remain on their parents’ health insurance plans.
- 4.8 million people enrolled in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) because of the Affordable Care Act.
In a teleconference, HHS officials touted the numbers and pointed to success in states like Florida, Texas and Georgia. These states saw a last-minute rush in March and large numbers applying.
In Texas more than 730,000 enrolled, in Florida over 980,000 and in Georgia more than 316,000. In all, 12 states doubled enrollment during the last month.
California leads the nation with more than 1.4 million enrolled. There are also surprises. The number of people who signed up for Obamacare plans in New York seems low. A little more than 370,000 enrolled.
There also appear to be problems when it comes outreach in minority communities. Latino enrollment is 10.7 percent; that’s only about 400,000 .
Myra Alvarez, HHS Associate Director over the Office of Minority Health, said, “When it comes to the Latino community, we recognized that there are challenges that we tried to address.”
She explained that HHS is trying to ramp up its outreach network during the coming months. “We are looking to reach those 10.2 million Latinos who are eligible, ” Alvarez said.
There also appear to be communication problems in the African-American and Asian communities. Only 600,000 African-Americans enrolled and only 7.9 percent of those who signed up are Asian.
On the plus side, there was a big effort to convince younger people to get health insurance through the program to offset the cost for older people who use more healthcare. That had some success. 28 percent of those who now have health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act are between 18 and 34.
Retiring Department Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sibelius took hits from every quarter when the enrollment website Healthcare.gov failed during the launch. On the conference call, she applauded the success of the signup program and said, “People now have health insurance that can’t be taken away from them…and they can’t be denied insurance because of a pre-existing condition.
If you need insurance and didn’t sign up
NEXT OPEN ENROLLMENT PERIOD
The next open enrollment period for Obamacare begins November 15, 2014 and ends February 15, 2015.
If you sign up in November your health insurance can begin as early as January 1, 2015. But you must make your first month’s payment before the health insurance kicks in.
APPLYING OUTSIDE OF THE OPEN ENROLLMENT PERIOD
You can only apply outside of the open enrollment period under these circumstances:
1. You’re getting married.
2. You’re adopting a child or a child is placed in your home.
3. You’re moving to a new area that offers different health plan choices.
4. You’re losing your healthcare coverage after a divorce, because you’ve lost your job, your COBRA is expiring, or you no longer qualify for Medicaid.