By Daniel Weintraub
California’s new health insurance exchange appears to be gaining momentum with consumers.
Officials announced Thursday that 109,000 people had completed the application process and picked a private insurance plan through CoveredCa.com in October and November. About twice as many people completed the process in November as had in October, and the numbers for the first week of December were even higher.
Those numbers don’t necessarily match the number of people who will eventually get insurance. Those who choose a plan still need to close the deal by making their first payment once the insurance company mails them an invoice.
But California accounts for about one-quarter of the people who have signed up under the Affordable Care Act nationally even though the state represents only about 10 percent of the nation’s population.
Another 179,000 people have been determined to be eligible for Medi-Cal in California through the CoveredCa.com application process.
Some additional demographic breakdowns about those purchasing private insurance:
–About 21 percent are age 18 to 34, compared to about 25 percent of the total state population for that group. One of the agency’s goals is to sign up as many young people as possible to help spread the risk of caring for older, sicker people who get coverage.
– The early enrollees continue to be dominated by the older set, with 35 percent coming from the 55-to-64 age group, who represent just 11 percent of the total state population.
–Most consumers who are eligible for federal subsidies to cut the cost of coverage are choosing the “silver” plans, which are designed to be the best buy for people getting the assistance. Those enrolling without federal financial help are more often choosing the cheaper “bronze” plans and the more expensive “gold” and “platinum” options.
The deadline is Dec. 23 to sign up for coverage that begins Jan. 1, but consumers can still enroll through CoveredCa.com for 2014 until the end of March.
About 1 million people are expected to lose their private insurance coverage in California because their plans do not meet the new minimum insurance requirements set by the law. So far, it appears that only about one-tenth as many have obtained coverage through the program. But others whose plans were cancelled might have simply bought new plans through their existing insurance companies without going through the state exchange.