HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania — Nearly 10,000 more Pennsylvanians signed up for an insurance plan in November through the federal health care law's new marketplace, the federal government reported Wednesday, and insurers expect the pace to pick up in December.
Through Nov. 30, 11,788 Pennsylvanians had signed up through the first two months, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said. The department did not say how many had actually made the first payment. But that figure is well below the broader goals for enrollment for coverage that begins Jan. 1 and reflects two months of troubles with Healthcare.gov, the federally run website that is the primary gateway to the marketplace.
The marketplace is designed to allow people to shop for a plan and find out whether they qualify for a federal tax credit to subsidize its cost. About 1.5 million out of 12.8 million Pennsylvanians were uninsured in 2012, according to U.S. Census figures.
One woman who is applying, Jean Bensinger, of New Ringgold, said she is waiting for a response after submitting a paper application to the office of her congressman, U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, because she does not have a computer. Cartwright's office told her she should qualify for subsidized insurance, but she's worried about making the deadline to enroll for Jan. 1 because her COBRA benefits are running out and she's a diabetic, Bensinger said.
"I'm hoping that they're going to contact me, because I did do everything they told me to do," Bensinger said.
Bensinger, who said she is in her 60s, quit her job as a licensed practical nurse after 26 years last spring because she felt bullied by her supervisor and is doubtful that she'll find work again at her age.
National enrollment statistics from the department showed 364,682 people have signed up for coverage as of Nov. 30, less than one-third of the 1.2 million people officials had originally projected would enroll nationwide by the end of November.
Insurers expect the rate of people enrolling to increase in December as more glitches are resolved in the revamped Healthcare.gov website. Consumers face a Dec. 23 enrollment deadline if they want to have coverage on Jan. 1.
All told, the department said, 74,000 Pennsylvanians submitted applications to cover 137,000 people, such as themselves, their spouses and children.
More than 100,000 made it through the application process and received an eligibility determination but have not yet selected a plan, the department said. Almost 40,000 were found eligible for a federal tax credit, while another 6,800 were deemed eligible for Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program outside of the federal insurance marketplace, which is also called an exchange.
Pennsylvania is relying on the federally run marketplace, like 35 other states, because Gov. Tom Corbett declined to have the state run its own exchange.