158,000 Illinoisans signed up for Obamacare in first 3 months
CHAMPAIGN — More than 150,000 Illinois residents completed applications for Obamacare health coverage in the first three months they had a chance to sign up, according to new federal data released Monday.
Fewer than half of the newly insured will be buying their coverage through private insurers in the state/federal marketplace.
Of the 158,123 who completed applications in the state as of Dec. 28, 2013, 61,111 chose marketplace health plans for which they'll pay mostly subsidized premiums.
Nearly 73 percent of those who selected marketplace plans qualified for premium subsidy assistance.
Most of the rest, including 83,370 applicants, were determined eligible for the state's expanded Medicaid program or the Children's Health Insurance Program.
Nationally, 4.3 million people have completed applications for health coverage, with nearly 2.2 million selecting plans through the marketplaces in their states, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Sign-ups in December represented a nearly fivefold increase from October and November, with nearly 1.8 million people selecting health plans last month, according to HHS.
"The numbers show interest greatly peaking or increasing in December once the (federal) website was fairly fixed," said Jim Duffett, executive director of Campaign for Better Health Care.
One thing that encouraged him about Illinois numbers, Duffett said: seeing 36 percent of the marketplace health plan selections in the state made by people ages 18-44, showing younger adults were interested in obtaining coverage.
Dec. 23 was the enrollment deadline for anyone wanting coverage to begin Jan. 1, and the next deadline is approaching soon: Wednesday, Jan. 15, for anyone coverage to start Feb. 1, Duffett said.
The final deadline to enroll in coverage is March 31 for anyone who hasn't had a qualifying life event such as a birth, divorce or loss of a job. But Duffett said he thinks that deadline could be adjusted because of all the problems prospective applicants had with the federal website — healthcare.gov — in October and November.
"We have not heard this from anyone, but there is something inside of me that says I'd be shocked if they close this off March 31," he said.
Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck said the state is looking to grow enrollment over the next few months, and there are 1,500 trained navigators available across the state to provide in-person help signing up.
A breakdown of the 61,111 enrollees in private plans in Illinois' health marketplace between Oct. 1 and Dec. 28:
18-25: 8 percent
26-34: 15 percent
35-44: 13 percent
45-54: 21 percent
55-64: 37 percent
Women: 54 percent
Men: 46 percent