First-time enrollees, Medicaid-eligible individuals, and an influx of young people. That’s part of the picture that emerges from the data that federal officials released...

First-time enrollees, Medicaid-eligible individuals, and an influx of young people.

Healthcare CostThat’s part of the picture that emerges from the data that federal officials released Tuesday about the more than 425,000 Georgians who have signed up for coverage in the health insurance exchange.

The Department of Health and Human Services reported that 90 percent of enrollees in Georgia received financial assistance, or subsidies, to help them afford an exchange health plan.

The report also said 36 percent were under 35 years of age. The high number of young people is important for insurers. Younger adults, who as a group are generally healthy, balance out the companies’ financial risks of covering older people, who are more likely to become ill.

“The risk pool looks good, based on age,’’ said Bill Custer, a health insurance expert at Georgia State University.

And 43 percent of the Georgia enrollees were signing up for the exchange for the first time. New enrollees will grow in number during the final weeks of open enrollment, Custer said.

Open enrollment ends Feb. 15.

The report added that more than 45,000 Georgians were determined to be eligible for Medicaid or PeachCare during the exchange enrollment process. Most are likely to be children.

Georgia’s 425, 927 signups as of Jan. 16 is far higher than last year’s exchange total of 316,543. Last year was the debut of the exchange, and due to technical problems it got off to a very slow start. This year’s process has been much smoother.

The increase in Georgia’s enrollment drew praise from HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell when she visited Atlanta last week.

HHS said that nationwide, 9.5 million consumers selected or were automatically reenrolled in coverage through the marketplace, or exchange, through Jan 16.  More than 7.1 million were in the 37 states, including Georgia, that have their exchanges run by the federal government, while 2.4 million were in the 14 states (including Washington, D.C.) using their own marketplace platforms.

 


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Andy Miller

Andy Miller is editor and CEO of Georgia Health News

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