The Affordable Care Act’s roll-out has come a long way and is now gradually getting up to speed, according to new government data.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced Wednesday that enrollment in the Health Insurance Marketplace has risen by 53 percent this January, with 27 percent of those new enrollees being young adults. Young, healthy individuals are an important demographic that will have a big impact on the success of Obamacare.
“These encouraging trends show that more Americans are enrolling every day, and finding quality, affordable coverage in the Marketplace,” Sebelius said in a HHS news release. “There is still plenty of time for you and your family to sign up in a private plan of your choice… Open enrollment ends March 31.”
A total of 3.3 million people have enrolled in the Health Insurance Marketplace by February 1 of this year; one-third of those people enrolled in January. Young adults, or those between the ages of 18 and 34, enrolled at an increased rate of 65 percent in January. The HHS report, released today, found that of the 3.3 million people who enrolled by February 1, 55 percent are female and 45 are male.
On the Health Insurance Marketplace website, users follow four steps in order to apply for health insurance: first, they create an account with basic information, fill out the application, pick a plan and then enroll. The Affordable Care Act has different health plans that will take effect this year, and they are sometimes referred to as “metal plans” since they are each named after a different type of metal — Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. The plans are ranked by their “actuarial value,” which has to do with the average amount of insurance expenses the plan pays for.
Plans with higher actuarial value, like the Gold and Platinum plans, are more expensive, but it also means the out-of-pocket costs will be lower. All of these plans, however, must offer essential health benefits, which include emergency services, mental health care, and preventive/wellness services. A full list of essential health benefits can be found here.
The HHS report reviewed, for the first time, what types of plans the 3.3 million people chose — which could be either Silver, Gold or Platinum — and found that 62 percent selected a Silver plan. The report also found that 82 percent of people were able to select a plan and get financial assistance, up 3 percent from the October 1 through December 28, 2013 reporting period.
The department sees this influx of young enrollees as an encouraging sign. "Based on past enrollment efforts, our research and what we're hearing in the field, we've always said that young people would wait until later in the open enrollment period to make their decision, and we're now seeing that pattern begin to play out," Anne Filipic, president of of the Obamacare advocacy group Enroll America, told CNBC.