Jan 13, 2014 10:17 PM by Sanjay Talwani - MTN News

Affordable Care Act enrollments top 2 million

HELENA - More than 2.1 million people were signed up for health plans under the "Obamacare" marketplaces as of Dec. 28, with the vast majority - nearly 1.8 million - signing up in December.

Nearly one third of the total enrollees - 30 percent - were under 34, with 24 percent between 18 to 34.

Participation by young people in the marketplaces is widely seen as vital to the success of Obamacare, because young people tend to be healthier than older people and improve the overall risk pool for insurers.

Nearly one-fourth of all enrollees - almost 500,000 - are in California, which operates its own marketplace.

Montana and some other states use what HHS calls a "federally facilitated" marketplace.

Those marketplaces suffered numerous glitches when they rolled out, starting on October.

HHS took a positive view of the numbers.

"Americans are finding quality affordable coverage in the Marketplace, and best of all, because coverage began on New Year's Day, the promise and hope of the Affordable Care Act is now a reality," HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement.

In Montana, 13,135 people had signed up, according to numbers released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

"Any time thousands of Montanans get good, affordable health insurance, I'm happy," Montana Insurance Commissioner Monica Lindeen said in a statement. "Let's hope things continue to get better."

The numbers reflect only those who have chosen a plan, not those who have actually paid their initial premiums.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana, the state's largest health insurer, said last week it will allow enrollees until the end of the month to pay their premiums for plans effective Jan. 1. The company will then pay any claims retroactively.

People without heath insurance have until March 31 to enroll in a health plan that meets the criteria of the Affordable Care Act.

Those enrolling through may qualify for a federal tax credit to offset premiums


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