The administration also indicated that 4.8 million more people are enrolled in Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program than at the start of the open enrollment period. However, it remains unclear how many of those individuals were newly eligible for the Medicaid program. States had the option of expanding Medicaid eligibility to individuals with incomes up to 138% of the federal poverty threshold, and roughly half the states have opted to do so.
“Across the country Americans will continue to sign up for Medicaid coverage,” Sebelius said. “In fact, many will be eligible for the very first time.”
The numbers should be viewed with a couple of other caveats in mind. The CMS has not released any data on how many of the 8 million exchange enrollees have actually made their first premium payments, which is necessary for coverage to actually take effect.
A report issued Wednesday by the House Energy & Commerce Committee indicated that a survey of insurers revealed that only 67% of individuals who signed up for coverage actually followed through with premium payments as of April 15.
The Obama administration said the House committee's number isn't accurate, and it's significantly lower than the rate suggested by most insurers that have commented publicly on the matter. On Wednesday, for example, WellPoint executives said that roughly 90% of the publicly traded company's exchange customers were following through with payments.
The report includes the first data from the CMS on how many enrollees were previously uninsured, but administration officials cautioned that the data may not be reliable. Applicants who sought financial assistance for plans obtained through the federal marketplace were required to say whether they previously had coverage. Of those 5.2 million enrollees, only 13% indicated that they already had health insurance.
Previous analyses have suggested much lower numbers of exchange enrollees were previously uninsured. In New York, one of the few states to track the number, two thirds of enrollees through early February indicated that they were previously uninsured. And a report issued last month by the RAND Corp. suggested that nationwide only about a third of exchange enrollees previously lacked coverage.
“With that kind of variability it's hard to trust any of these numbers,” said Mike Hash, director of the Office of Health Reform at HHS.
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