- (Photo: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)
States that created their own health care exchanges are reporting a surge right before a major deadline that would guarantee converge beginning in the New Year.
During a phone conference several state officials revealed that a surge has increased enrollments as high as 40 percent in the weeks since Thanksgiving. The surge is thought to be in response to the looming deadline on Dec. 23, which is that last day to sign up for health insurance that will guarantee coverage beginning Jan. 1.
Officials in Kentucky stated that people signing up for coverage increased 40 percent the past few weeks and are expecting that number to grow as the deadline nears.
"We are seeing about 3,000 people a day approved for Medicaid or a [qualified health plan]," Kentucky Health Benefit Exchange executive director Carrie Banahan said. "We started out a few weeks ago at about a thousand per day."
In lite of the troubled roll out of Healthcare.gov President Obama extended the deadline to sign up for insurance to ensure coverage starting News Years Day, but some states have extended the deadline even further which could cause additional consumer confusion.
"They stepped all over the first two months of the enrollment period. Now I think there's this big effort to give people as much flexibility as they can to sign up for coverage effective Jan 1," Karen Pollitz, senior fellow at the Kaiser Family Foundation, told Reuters. "The downside is there could be more confusion. The upside is that many more people could get in under the wire."
California is another state where health officials successfully implemented a state run exchange and have seen the number of people enroll more than double in the last couple of weeks. The California exchange saw an average of 15,000 enrollments a day last week, which is more than double the 7,000 a day the previous week, as reported by ABC.
"We are all still in the first inning of a nine-inning game," Covered California executive director Peter Lee told reporters during a press call. "Friends are telling friends; family are telling family. … We are quite confident that as we go into the next half of enrollment that we will build momentum."
Fourteen states plus the District of Columbia created and run their own online insurance exchanges under the Affordable Care Act. While some states are seeing an increasing number of enrollments other states have suffered setbacks due to technical issues with their online insurance marketplaces including Maryland, Oregon and Hawaii.