Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Sign-Ups for Health Insurance on the Rise Tally Shows 2 Million Enroll for First Time

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Sign-Ups for Health Insurance on the Rise Tally Shows 2 Million Enroll for First Time

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON - Enrollment in health insurance through the Affordable Care Act is increasing rapidly, with more than 2 million people so far signing up for coverage for the first time, figures released Tuesday show.

In addition to the new enrollments, which surpass last year's sign-up rate, several million more people have been re-enrolled in plans in the law's second year of expanding coverage.

The new tally, outlined in a report from the Department of Health and Human Services, covers the 37 states whose residents can use a federal website to buy coverage. Several hundred thousand additional sign-ups are expected from 13 states, including California, Maryland and Connecticut, and the District of Columbia that run their own online marketplaces.

The numbers provide an early snapshot of how well the law, also known as Obamacare, will work in 2015. They underscore improvement in how the enrollment process is working this year compared with last, when technology problems made sign-ups on Health.Care.gov virtually impossible for consumers for weeks.

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell called this year's early tally "an encouraging start."

"People shopped for coverage and signed up, finding more choices and greater competition," she said.

The law allows Americans who don't get health benefits at work to shop among plans on new marketplaces operated by the federal government or by individual states.

Consumers making less than four times the federal poverty level - or about $94,000 a year for a family of four - qualify for subsidies.

This year, consumers who already have coverage through the marketplace had until Dec. 15 to go back and shop for plans before they were automatically re-enrolled in their current plan. Open enrollment continues through Feb. 15. Those who have automatically been re-enrolled can change plans until then.

According to the report, between Nov. 15 and Dec. 19, nearly 6. …

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