California’s health insurance exchange said more than 59,000 people have signed up for coverage through Tuesday as part of the Affordable Care Act.
Earlier Wednesday, federal officials reported that 35,364 Californians had enrolled in private health plans through Nov. 2. California said its updated figures through Tuesday show that consumer interest is building.
“The numbers are better than encouraging,” said Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, the state health insurance exchange. “We are also experiencing a significant growth in the number of applications and in actual enrollment during the latter part of October and in November.”
California officials said an additional 72,007 people were deemed eligible for an expansion of Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program for the poor.
The state’s performance was a bright spot compared with meager enrollment numbers in a federal exchange for 36 other states. Only 26,794 people signed up for health insurance through the federal marketplace.
Overall, California wants to sign up about 1 million people in subsidized health insurance or an expansion of Medi-Cal by March 31, the end of the six-month open enrollment period.
State officials had warned that October enrollment would be low and applications would increase in the weeks leading up to Dec. 15, which is the deadline to get coverage starting Jan. 1.
In a survey of Californians who completed the enrollment process, officials said, nearly 70% found the application process easy to complete.
But the state still faces a backlog of enrollment counselors and insurance agents waiting to be trained and certified to handle applications. Officials estimate the vast majority of consumers will want personal help to figure out their new insurance options under Obamacare.
Covered California said 1,043 enrollment counselors are in place now, but an additional 4,450 are still waiting to be authorized. The state previously said it needed about 16,000 enrollment counselors overall.
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