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Delaware officials report more than 11k enrollments in health insurance exchange under ACA

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DOVER, Delaware — More than 11,000 people have enrolled in Delaware's health insurance exchange under the federal Affordable Care Act, and the number likely will grow in the coming weeks, state officials said Thursday.

In an ACA implementation update, Health and Social Services Secretary Rita Landgraf told Delaware's health care commission that 11,335 Delawareans had enrolled in the state's exchange, and that almost two-thirds had paid their first premiums.

The enrollment numbers reflect a spike of 62 percent from the previous month as applicants raced to meet the March 31 deadline for open enrollment.

Landgraf said the number of enrollments is expected to grow over the next couple of weeks, because those who began but were unable to finish the application process before the deadline were given until April 15 to complete their enrollments. In addition, applicants with "complex cases" in which eligibility determinations are pending will have 60 days to enroll once those determinations are resolved.

State officials initially had hoped to enroll 35,000 of the roughly 90,000 uninsured Delawareans for coverage under the ACA, but federal officials set a much lower benchmark of 8,000 last fall. Officials do not know how many enrollees were previously uninsured because there was no mechanism put in place to do so.

But state officials noted that 79 percent of enrollees will be receiving government subsidies to help pay their premiums.

Less than 10 percent of the completed enrollments were reported by the four marketplace guide organizations hired by the state to help people learn about and enroll in the exchange. The marketplace guide organizations were awarded more than $4 million in federal grants for the work.

Another 3,411 Delaware residents were determined to be eligible for Medicaid coverage under expanded eligibility criteria that the state adopted as part of its health care reform effort, Landgraf said.

Health care commission chairwoman Bettina Riveros described the exchange enrollments and additional Medicaid signups as "a tremendous effort and a tremendous outcome."

Among those newly eligible for Medicaid, 42 percent are young adults between ages 19 and 34. Landgraf suggested that many of them likely are poor or working in low-wage jobs.

Among those who have signed up for private insurance in the exchange, "young invincibles" aged 18 to 34 account for 22 percent of enrollees. A critical plan component for the Affordable Care Act is having enough healthy young people enrolled in plans so that their premiums can help cover the costs of older people with more health problems.

But more than half those who have enrolled in Delaware's exchange are ages 45 to 64, an age range in which people are more likely to have pre-existing or chronic health problems.

Other demographic data show that women account for 55 percent of exchange enrollees and 67 percent of those who qualified for coverage under the expanded Medicaid program.

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