140,000 in Georgia now signed up for Obamacare


Thousands of Georgians signed up for health coverage on the Health Insurance Marketplace last month, although the pace slowed considerably from earlier months.

Nearly 140,000 Georgia consumers have selected a health plan through HealthCare.gov since the marketplace launched Oct. 1, according to new federal data. That’s up nearly 38 percent from enrollment during the site’s first four months of operation, compared with growth of 73 percent in January.

Nationwide, more than 4.2 million Americans have selected plans on the marketplace, a key element of the Affordable Care Act. Federal officials said Tuesday afternoon they don’t know how many of those people have made their first premium payments needed for coverage to actually take effect.

“We expect even more will sign up as we approach the March 31 deadline,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a conference call with reporters Tuesday.

Consumers have less than three weeks to buy insurance plans and possibly qualify for federal tax credits on the marketplace before open enrollment closes March 31. Most Americans are required by the Affordable Care Act to have health insurance starting this year or face a tax penalty.

While the number of Georgians signing up for marketplace plans continued to climb in February, the two months prior saw even bigger jumps, in large part because of pent-up demand from people who tried but failed to sign up for coverage through the error-riddled website. Enrollment grew eightfold in December alone once the site finally started working.

Twenty-eight percent of sign-ups so far in Georgia have been among adults age 18 to 34 — the generally healthier “young invincibles” who experts say insurers need to help balance the costs of older, sicker consumers. Nationwide, one in four people signed up are in that age group.

Those numbers are enough to make the marketplace sustainable, although, ideally about one-third of enrollees should be in that younger, healthier category, said William Custer, a health care expert at Georgia State University.

Fifty-eight percent of Georgians who have signed up through the marketplace are women, while 85 percent of people qualified for financial assistance to help lower premium costs. More than 62,000 low-income people also qualify for the state’s Medicaid program, according to the federal data.

Ultimately, predictions of future marketplace enrollment shouldn’t be based on this first year, Custer said. More people will sign up as they learn about coverage options and face increasingly higher penalties for remaining uninsured, he said.

Enrollment growth in February was below expectations but still respectable, he said. “These are workable numbers.”


Reader Comments


Next Up in News

Searching for Trump, Clinton alternatives? Google says you're not alone
Searching for Trump, Clinton alternatives? Google says you're not alone
If the back and forth between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is bumming you out more than it's inspiring you to get out and vote, you're not alone.
Ted Cruz stumps for Mike Crane in Newnan
Ted Cruz stumps for Mike Crane in Newnan
Fresh off a defiant appearance at the Republican National Convention where he refused to endorse GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, U.
Hillary Clinton names Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine as her VP pick
 Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia is Hillary Clinton’s pick to be her running mate on the Democratic Party’s ticket for the White House,...
Homeless college student inspires nation, divides locals
Homeless college student inspires nation, divides locals
The story of a homeless young man bicycling 6 hours to register at a Georgia college inspired the nation, raising $184,000 in a GoFundMe account for...
At least 9 dead in Munich shooting rampage, 1 may be attacker
At least 9 dead in Munich shooting rampage, 1 may be attacker
 Police declared an "acute terrorist situation" Friday in Munich and shut down traffic and rail service in the...
More Stories

You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myAJC.com.

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of free premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

X

Welcome to myAJC.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myAJC.com.