The Obama administration plans to offer exceptions to the March 31 deadline to enroll in an individual insurance plan through the Affordable Care Act.
The goal is to ensure all people who try to enroll in the days leading up to the deadline can do so. People can enroll until about mid-April, according to a Washington Post report, by checking a box online indicating that they tried to enroll by March 31.
The extension applies to people in the 36 states who use the federally run insurance exchange at Healthcare.gov for enrollment, and not to people in the 14 states that chose to run their own exchanges. Those states would have to approve their own extensions. Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada and Oregon have announced such extensions or are considering them, according to the Post report.
Latest enrollment figures
With four days to go before the end of open enrollment, the number of people who have bought insurance through the exchanges has surpassed 6 million, Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, announced in a blog post March 27.
The figure matches the Congressional Budget Offices revised enrollment projections, which dropped from 7 million after the CBO accounted for the technical problems that made enrolling difficult in October and November.
Key data that have not been reported include how many people have made their initial premium payment, which is necessary for insurers to consider them enrolled; how many are relatively young and healthy to keep premiums stable by offsetting costs of insuring higher numbers of older and sicker people; and how many of the new enrollees previously lacked health insurance, given that a primary goal of the ACA is to reduce the number of uninsured.
Prevalence of underinsurance
The Commonwealth Fund reports that 32 million people under age 65 were underinsured in the U.S. in 2012, two years prior to full implementation of the Affordable Care Act, meaning they had health coverage but it provided inadequate protection against high healthcare costs relative to their income.
Described as the first report to examine the underinsured at the state level, it finds that the rate of underinsured ranged from a low of 8% in New Hampshire to highs of 16% in Mississippi and Tennessee and 17% in Idaho and Utah.
Low- and middle-income families were most likely to be affected: 13% 4 million of the underinsured were middle-income, earning between about $47,000 and $95,000 for a family of four, and 81% 26 million were low-income, earning less than 200% of the federal poverty level, or less than $47,000 a year for a family of four.
In addition, 47 million people were uninsured in 2012 a decline of nearly 2 million from 2010, likely due in large part to the Affordable Care Acts early provision to expand dependent coverage for young adults, according to the report.
Before the major expansions of the ACA began to be implemented this year, a total of 79 million people under 65 were uninsured or underinsured, and therefore at risk for not being able to afford needed healthcare or for facing debt from medical bills in 2012. Nationally, nearly 29% were uninsured or underinsured, ranging from 14% in Massachusetts to 36% to 38% in Florida, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas.