During the first month of enrollment in President Barack Obama’s signature health-care legislation, only 106,185 consumers nationwide, including 1,150 Ohioans, have been able to select a new health coverage plan, according to figures released today by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The figures are the first indication of how the enrollment process has underperformed after weeks of major technical issues that has shutdown the website, frustrated consumers who have been unable to complete applications, prompted congressional hearings and called for the resignation of HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
In a teleconference this afternoon to release the numbers, Sebelius acknowledged the numbers are not where they expected and are working to improve the process. “We are clearly, on Nov. 13, not where we want to be,” she said. But “even with the issues we’ve had, the marketplace is working, and people are enrolling.”
So far, there have been 1.5 million U.S. consumers who have completed applications either on the 14 state-run exchanges or the 36 state exchanges run by the federal government.
In Ohio, there have been 45,372 applications filed, with 24,050 of completed. HHS has determined that 34,374 Ohio consumers are eligible to enroll in the marketplace to receive coverage, and 11,866 individuals are eligible to receive financial assistance — those enrollees with incomes ranging from 100 percent to 400 percent of the federal poverty level. That’s a maximum of $45,960 for an individual or $94,200 for a family of four this year.
HHS found also that 7,535 Ohioans who applied were determined to be eligible for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
The states operating its own exchanges have fared better enrolling consumers than the federal government’s HealthCare.gov site. So far, the state exchanges have enrolled 79,391 consumers, while states with federally run or aided marketplaces have enrolled 26,798 individuals.
Administration officials have said they expected a slow start. The Congressional Budget Office projects that 7 million people will sign up for coverage through the state marketplaces in 2014 — the first year in which coverage begins. By 2023, 25 million people will be enrolled, the CBO predicts.
In order to meet the 7 million goal by the March 31 enrollment deadline, it would require 39,000 enrollees a day.