HHS: Ten Million Will Be on Obamacare Exchanges by Next Year

Healthcare.gov in 2014. Healthcare.gov in 2014. txking / Shutterstock.com

Ten mil­lion Amer­ic­ans will likely have cov­er­age through an in­sur­ance mar­ket­place and be pay­ing their premi­ums by the end of 2016, ac­cord­ing to the latest pre­dic­tion from the Health and Hu­man Ser­vices De­part­ment.

Nearly 10.5 mil­lion un­in­sured Amer­ic­ans are likely to qual­i­fy for mar­ket­place plans, and the de­part­ment es­tim­ates that more than 1 in 4 will en­roll. As the White House gears up for the third open-en­roll­ment sea­son—a key part of Pres­id­ent Obama’s sig­na­ture health care over­haul—the num­bers of­fer in­sight in­to whom the ad­min­is­tra­tion is tar­get­ing to com­plete this goal. On a call with re­port­ers, HHS of­fi­cials ex­plained they hope to get there through loc­al­ized and di­git­al cam­paigns.

Nearly half of those who could pick health plans on the mar­ket­place are  “young in­vin­cibles” between 18 and 34—a crit­ic­al age group the ad­min­is­tra­tion has his­tor­ic­ally tar­geted for en­roll­ment be­cause they’re known for be­ing health­i­er and less likely to heav­ily util­ize their plans, so they can es­sen­tially sub­sid­ize the cost of older and sick­er be­ne­fi­ciar­ies.

The ana­lys­is from the de­part­ment’s Of­fice of the As­sist­ant Sec­ret­ary for Plan­ning and Eval­u­ation comes a little more than two weeks be­fore the third open-en­roll­ment sea­son, the first of which saw a bumbled rol­lout plagued with tech­no­lo­gic­al glitches.

The 10 mil­lion Amer­ic­ans HHS an­ti­cip­ates will have in­sur­ance by the end of next year come from three main areas: those who will reen­roll in cov­er­age on the mar­ket­place (about 7.3 to 8.8 mil­lion); those switch­ing from in­di­vidu­al mar­kets to the health in­sur­ance mar­ket­place (900,000 to 1.5 mil­lion); and those who are cur­rently un­in­sured but eli­gible for cov­er­age (2.8 to 3.9 mil­lion).

“We be­lieve 10 mil­lion is a strong and real­ist­ic goal,” HHS Sec­ret­ary Sylvia Math­ews Bur­well said on Thursday’s call with re­port­ers. “We’ve seen high levels of sat­is­fac­tion with the mar­ket­place and ex­pect the vast ma­jor­ity of our cur­rent cus­tom­ers will reen­roll. And our tar­get as­sumes that more than one out of every four of the eli­gible un­in­sured will se­lect plans.”

HHS has ana­lyzed the demo­graph­ic in­form­a­tion of the un­in­sured: About 40 per­cent are liv­ing between 139 per­cent and 250 per­cent of the poverty level, which comes out to in­comes of about $30,000 to $60,000 for a fam­ily of four. Nearly 8 in 10 could qual­i­fy for fin­an­cial as­sist­ance. About 19 per­cent are His­pan­ic, 14 per­cent are black, and 2 per­cent are Asi­an. More are male than fe­male.

Yet the de­part­ment noted the ad­min­is­tra­tion is aware that the un­in­sured may be harder to reach this time around. The de­part­ment aims to work with vari­ous part­ners, such as non­profits, health care pro­viders, busi­nesses, and gov­ern­ment agen­cies. It’s planned loc­al­ized cam­paigns in both Eng­lish and Span­ish. And the young in­vin­cibles will be tar­geted through di­git­al ad­vert­ising and email.

As for when the 3 out of 4 un­in­sured whom the ad­min­is­tra­tion ex­pects to re­main un­in­sured at the end of next year will re­ceive health cov­er­age, Richard Frank, as­sist­ant sec­ret­ary for Plan­ning and Eval­u­ation, said: “We’re still work­ing on our longer-term pro­jec­tions, and what we do see is a longer path to that equi­lib­ri­um.”

The fee for not buy­ing health in­sur­ance if a per­son can af­ford it, un­der what is known as the in­di­vidu­al man­date, is rising in 2016. An in­di­vidu­al will pay 2.5 per­cent of his or her an­nu­al house­hold in­come, or $695 per per­son ($347.50 per child un­der 18)—whichever is high­er.  

(Image via txking / Shutterstock.com )

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