New Report Shows Over 13,000, Mostly Older, Montanans Enroll for Obamacare Coverage
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released new data on Monday, January 13, showing the number of Montanans who had enrolled for health insurance in the new Affordable Care Act marketplace between October and December 2013.
"There were more than 13,000 [Montanans] that had bought insurance through Obamacare, who are already signed up now," said Jennifer McKee, Communications Director for the Montana Commissioner of Securities and Insurance. "There was a greater number of people that had gone through healthcare.gov and have qualified for a tax credit, but had not decided which plan they wanted to buy. That's kind of the normal shopping process. The biggest news for us was that it was a huge increase over the month before."
Even though 13,135 Montanans have selected plans, that does not necessarily mean that they have paid for their health insurance yet. The money for the coverage must be collected by the health insurance companies and the information on how that end of the transaction has gone is not yet public.
According to the HHS report, 83 percent of the Montanans that had selected a plan were able to qualify for subsidies.
One of the biggest concerns from the report is the low numbers of younger enrollees. Of those that had selected plans, 38 percent were between the ages of 55 and 64, while another 19 percent were in the 45 to 54 age range.
Only 22 percent of the Montana total were the so-called "young invincibles" between the ages of 18 and 34, a number that is less than the national average of 24 percent.
"We'd like to see that number a little higher, I think everybody would," McKee said. "Although it is not a huge surprise that older folks are coming in first. One of the changes in Obamacare is that, for the first time, insurance companies can't discriminate against people for their pre-existing health conditions. Most of us will have a pre-existing health condition by the time we're in our 50s or 60s, it's not a surprise that they would be taking advantage of that change."
Overall, McKee said Securities and Insurance Commissioner Monica Lindeen was "happy" with the news.
"I think she'd like to see things continue to improve, but we're pleased that the log-jam has broken up a bit and folks are getting in and, most importantly, they are getting insurance at prices that are affordable to them," McKee said.