Report: Most exchange enrollees previously insured

Although more than 2 million people have enrolled in the health insurance exchanges, only 11 percent previously had insurance, leaving some industry experts to question whether the exchanges will reduce the uninsured rate, according to a new report from consulting firm McKinsey & Company.

With about 48 million uninsured Americans, the healthcare reform law was expected to cut down that number to roughly 25 million people. But the report, which was based on a survey of about 4,500 consumers, showed the uninsured haven't flocked to the exchanges yet, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The report found 52 percent of people who shopped for a plan on exchanges named affordability as the primary reason they didn't actually purchase coverage, while 30 percent said technical challenges prevented them from buying a plan.

The amount of newly insured consumers also has been lower than insurers anticipated. For example, insurers in Michigan expected 400,000 of the state's 1.2 million uninsured consumers to enroll in private plans this year, but only 76,000 total people have enrolled and many of them were previously insured.

Matt Buettgens, a senior research analyst at the Urban Institute, said a "significant number" of consumers who have signed up for exchange plans aren't newly insured, but are instead trading up for better insurance coverage, The Baltimore Sun reported.

"They aren't likely to be the majority in the long run," he told the Sun. "But they're getting renewal notices in the mail, and they aren't happy with their current insurance or they're losing their insurance, so they may be the first ones to act."

Federal health officials brushed off the report's findings. "We are in the middle of a sustained six-month open-enrollment period, and we have seen a strong interest in the product overall across the range of demographics so far," Aaron Albright, a spokesman for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, told the WSJ. "We are ramping up outreach activities so that more Americans learn how they can now benefit from affordable health insurance."

To learn more:
- read the Wall Street Journal article
- see the Baltimore Sun article