First report released on health care signups
CHICAGO — Despite problems with the federal health insurance marketplace website, more than 30,000 applications for coverage have been completed in Illinois during its first month in operation, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced in a report Wednesday.
The report found 30,901 applications were been completed in Illinois from Oct. 1 to Nov. 2. And during that time, 1,370 people selected a private health plan in Illinois' marketplace.
It also found in Illinois: 11,603 residents were found eligible for financial assistance and 19,447 applicants were preliminarily found eligible for Medicaid through the federal website at http://www.healthcare.gov.
Nationally, in the first month, 106,185 Americans — a fifth of what officials had projected — have selected health plans from state and federal marketplaces, and an additional 396,261 people have been found eligible for Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program, HHS found.
There have been 975,407 people who made it through the application process and received an eligibility determination, but haven't yet selected a health plan, according to the report.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told reporters in a teleconference Wednesday the numbers show a clear interest in what the state-federal marketplaces have to offer, both in private insurance plans and Medicaid coverage.
And that interest can be expected to grow over the next several months, she said.
She encouraged people to visit the federal website.
"It's getting better. It's getting better every day," she said.
Illinois officials said some key indicators of awareness and interest in the early weeks of the campaign for Get Covered Illinois, the name of the state's health marketplace, are more than 400,000 website visits and more than 190,000 users of the screening tool determining eligibility for Medicaid or private insurance.
There have been more than 47,000 applications to the ABE —Application for Benefits Eligibility — website for Medicaid in addition to those reported by the federal report, according to the state.
"We have consistently urged Illinois residents to take their time getting educated, rather than make an impulsive decision on something as important as health care for themselves and their families," Jennifer Koehler, executive director of Get Covered Illinois, said in a written statement. "When healthcare.gov is ready to handle more users, we expect to see more website traffic to Get Covered Illinois and significant growth in enrollment numbers."