In a pivotal market for President Obama’s healthcare law, more than 35,000 Californians signed up for private health plans through the state’s insurance exchange in October, federal officials said Wednesday.
In its first enrollment report, federal officials said California accounted for a third of health insurance enrollment nationwide under the Affordable Care Act. California’s total was more than double that of any other state.
Overall, 106,185 people signed up for private health insurance through the federal and state exchanges. Federal officials said an additional 79,519 people in California were deemed eligible for Medicaid for the period beginning Oct. 1 through Nov. 2.
California officials will discuss their results in more detail later Wednesday.
Overall, California wants to sign up more than 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.
From the outset, state officials said October enrollment would be slow and applications would increase in the weeks leading up to Dec. 15, which is the deadline to get coverage starting Jan. 1.
California’s enrollment website suffered some early technical glitches after its Oct. 1 launch, but for the most part it has run far better than the federal healthcare.gov site.
The state has been hampered by delays in getting enough enrollment counselors and insurance agents trained and certified to assist people with enrollment.
Some consumers also have complained they can’t find out what doctors and hospitals are included in certain health plans so they can pick a policy.
That frustration has been compounded by the fact that an estimated 1 million Californians have received cancellation notices on their existing individual insurance policies and been told they have to find new coverage Jan. 1.
Under the Affordable Care Act, those policyholders are guaranteed new coverage regardless of their preexisting medical conditions, but many will pay more in premiums next year if they don’t qualify for federal premium subsidies based on their income.
Individuals earning less than $46,000 a year and families below $94,000 annually may qualify for those subsidies. In California, individuals earning less than $16,000 can get coverage through an expansion of Medi-Cal.