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HealthCare Checkup

The Seattle Times health-care team tracks the local impact of the Affordable Care Act.

June 12, 2014 at 7:30 AM

Enrollment surge reduces state’s uninsured by more than 370,000

This year, more people bought individual plans outside the Washington Health Benefit Exchange than inside, for a total of more than 327,000 plans sold during open enrollment.

In the latest number-crunching exercise, analysts from the Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC) found that 79,000 more people are enrolled in individual insurance now than in 2013.

Overall — with some numbers still rolling in — the OIC has preliminarily calculated that the number of uninsured in the state has been reduced by more than 370,000 people since Dec. 31. That figure includes a net increase of about 365,000 in Medicaid and other public coverage and the additional 79,000 people with individual coverage, subtracting losses in other types of health insurance.

For the private health plans, enrollment of the 18- to 34-year-old “young invincible” age group was considered a major goal. As it turned out, that age group made up almost as large a percentage as the oldest group (the over-55 category) — 23 percent of total enrollment in individual health plans as of May 1.

Young people didn’t gravitate only to the exchange, where they might receive a subsidy. They also made up 22 percent of enrollment in private plans outside the exchange.

Both inside and outside the exchange, the age group representing the largest percentage of enrollees was the age 45-54 group. Inside the exchange, where people could qualify for a subsidy, the next largest group was the over 55 age group.

In rural areas, the over-55 group made up the largest percentage of enrollees.  In rural areas, those enrolling tended to be older, overall, and for people in the over-55 age group, subsidies can substantially reduce what otherwise would be very large premiums.

Outside the exchange, bronze plans, with the lowest premiums but highest cost-sharing arrangements, were the most popular, with more than 62 percent of the plans sold. Inside the exchange, silver plans, the middle level, were most often chosen.

For people who made less than 250 percent of the federal poverty level, picking a silver plan allowed them to qualify for both tax credits and reduced cost-sharing.

At its peak in 2010, individual enrollment was nearly 294,000, but by the end of 2013, it had fallen to just over 248,000, according to the OIC.

Comments | Topics: enrollment, Office of the Insurance Commissioner, Washington Health Benefit Exchange


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