Individual market sees surge in enrollment

Out of a potential 15 million people who signed up for healthcare coverage, between 3 million and 3.5 million people enrolled in plans outside of the Affordable Care Act exchanges, according to a recent report from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The data suggests substantial growth in the individual market during the first part of 2014--the total number of those covered in the individual market at the end of March rose 29 percent higher than enrollment at the end of December 2013.

"What these numbers suggest is that enrollment in the individual market grew rapidly in early 2014, and most likely continued to grow through April and May as many plans took effect in those months," states the report.

The findings provide insight into net enrollment, which includes those who have signed up on and off the exchanges. Yet the data has certain limitations. Many large insurers have different filing deadlines, so their findings are not represented. The KFF looked only at insurers that submitted first-quarter filings--plans included in the analysis account for two-thirds of the overall market.

Between 3.3 million and 4.2 million people signed up for marketplace coverage by mid-February, but it's unclear just how many people have paid their premiums--a House Committee report released last month said 67 percent of enrollees paid their first month's premiums as of April 15, yet the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services claimed 80 to 90 percent had done so, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

It's also still uncertain how much of the individual market growth is related to marketplace enrollment. If insurers not included in this analysis experience the same growth rates as those included, the number of new enrollees in 2014 could potentially double when later data becomes available, finds the study.

To learn more:
- here's the Kaiser Family Foundation study