The latest Obamacare numbers are in, and they may disappoint the doomsayers.
Another 1.2 million people signed up for private health care through the new insurance exchanges in January, boosting total enrollment to 3.3 million—a 53% increase in one month. The current trend, as shown in the accompanying graph, looks less like a crashing train than a fleet of jets taking flight.
“The January data give us a more holistic picture of enrollment,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Wednesday during a press call, “and it’s very, very encouraging.”
Combined with the 6.3 million people the exchanges have funneled into Medicaid, the new figures suggest that the Affordable Care Act has connected 9.6 million Americans to affordable health coverage since enrollment opened in October. If you include the 3 million-plus young adults now covered on their parents’ family plans through age 25, the number of people now benefiting tops 12.6 million.
As a group, the marketplace enrollees are still older than insurers are hoping for, but the new report shows progress on that front. Roughly 27% of January’s enrollees were 18 to 34 years old—a group whose low health costs help keep everyone’s rates lower. That’s up from a 24% average for October, November and December.
Judging from past experience in Massachusetts, experts expect young adults to sign up in increasing numbers as the March 31 enrollment deadline approaches. But projections suggest that the new health care market will sustain itself as long as at young adults make up at least 25% of the total.
Despite its early technical problems, the federal exchange, healthcare.gov, enrolled 1.9 million people from October through January, while state-run exchanges enrolled 1.4 million people.