States predict more exchange customers

By BenefitsPro


By Allison Bell

More Americans than predicted may decide to flock to the new public exchanges for health coverage come 2014.

Estimates from 19 states operating health insurance exchanges show that at least 8.5 million consumers plan to buy insurance through exchanges in those states, a prediction far outpacing what the Congressional Budget Office has projected, according to a new USA Today survey reported Tuesday.

CBO analysts predicted that there would be 7 million new participants in exchanges across all 50 states.

USA Today contacted all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and 19 jurisdictions shared estimates for how many of their uninsured residents they expect will buy through the exchanges.

California alone reported it expects to sign up 5.3 million people. The survey did not mention other state-created projections from other large states, such as Texas.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the department in charge of setting up the exchange program, typically starts with CBO figures when talking about how big the program might grow.

The states that provided projections "said they made their estimates based on how many individuals are uninsured and aren't likely to become insured by an employer, what insurers in their states expect, and conversations with HHS about reasonable goals," USA Today reported.

The USA Today article didn't address what would happen if the number of exchange enrollees who qualify for the new PPACA health insurance purchase tax subsidy proves to be much higher than expected. But the article did quote health policy specialists who said the health status of the typical exchange plan user could affect the performance of the program.

When HHS was setting up another PPACA program, the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan, state and federal agencies succeeded at enrolling just 25,000 of the 4 million Americans believed to be eligible for the program by the end of the first program year.

At the end of June, total PCIP enrollment had increased to 104,966.

Originally published on BenefitsPro.com