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Washington signing up more people for Medicaid than private plans

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
December 6th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

While cited as a sterling example of the success of health care reform, The White House has highlighted the success of Washington state in terms of enrollment. What's not widely known is the fact that far more people are signing up for Medicaid than they are for private insurance plans.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - In the first two months of enrollment, Healthplanfinder, the state's health-care exchange enrolled 176,468 Washingtonians in coverage. Over 91,000 are newly eligible for expanded Medicaid. More than 66,000 were currently eligible but were not enrolled, which left only 18,131 residents who purchased private policies.

In effect, a substantial eight-and-a-half times as many people registered for Medicaid as they have in private insurance.

An additional 43,000 people have completed applications for private plans but have yet to submit payment. This payment is due by December 23 for coverage that begins on January 1 of the new year.

It's been projected that roughly 130,000 people will purchase private insurance plans by New Year's Day. Current private-plan enrollment amounts to about 14 percent of that goal.

The exchange Web site, in the meantime, went offline for repairs from Tuesday afternoon to Wednesday evening. Users had been experiencing errors on Monday and Tuesday.

It was a setback, as Washington's new online health insurance marketplace was at first one of the nation's most successful. In a 12-page statistical report containing demographic details earlier this year, Washington's state-run exchange had signed up more people for health insurance than any state other than New York and California.
 
At the beginning, paying customers gravitated strongly to "silver" plans with a medium level of coverage. As expected, initial sign ups were weighted to older people who tend to have more health issues.
 
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