11.3M sign up for coverage on state, federal exchanges

More than 11.3 million people have chosen health coverage through Healthcare.gov and the state exchanges through Dec. 26, new government data show, though not all news about the Affordable Care Act's enrollment gains is encouraging.

That figure includes 8.6 million people who have signed up or renewed coverage through the federal exchange and 2.7 million in the 13 state-based marketplaces. The Department of Health and Human Services has seen "unprecedented demand" for coverage during the current open enrollment period, HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said in an announcement.

Nearly 3 million--or 26 percent--of enrollees so far have been between the ages of 18-34, according to HHS. Younger, healthier consumers have been a key enrollment target for the government in the third enrollment period as the administration looks to balance out the risk pool to keep insurers from losing money on older, sicker enrollees.

Indeed, Burwell said she was encouraged by the fact that marketplace customers "are increasingly young, engaged and shopping for the best plan." But when the exchanges launched in 2013, actuaries set a goal of having 18-34 year olds make up 40 percent of enrollment, the Wall Street Journal points out.

In addition, the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index released this week shows that the overall uninsured rate has remained essentially unchanged throughout 2015. In the fourth quarter of 2015, 11.9 percent lacked coverage--the same share as in the first quarter and slightly more than in the third quarter. Still, the rate has declined considerably in each quarter of 2015 compared to the same quarter in 2014, the poll shows.

The poll also found that the among key subgroups, Hispanics have seen the largest drop in their uninsured rate since the fourth quarter of 2013, with that figure declining 7.8 percentage points to 30.9 percent in 2014's Q4. The Obama administration and other outreach organizations are planning to focus on the Latino population in their final enrollment push before the open enrollment period ends.

Low-income Americans have also seen the greatest dip in the uninsured rate across all income groups, though they still are far more likely than their higher-earning counterparts to lack health insurance.

To learn more:
- read the HHS announcement
- here's the enrollment data
- check out the Gallup-Healthways poll
- read the WSJ article

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