Obamacare Sees 6 Million Enrolled As Deadline ApproachesBy: Rachel Kolman - March 30, 2014
As the Affordable Care Act (or commonly referred to as “Obamacare”) approaches its March 31st deadline, there’s been much debate about whether Obamacare would hit its enrollment goal of 7 million. The White House announced on Thursday that there’s been just over 6 million Americans who’ve enrolled already, and they’re expecting a huge surge during Obamacare’s last open week of enrollment. In March alone, 1.8 million have signed up for Obamacare, surpassing the projected 1.2 million for the month. “We are seeing near record numbers of consumers coming to check out their options and enroll in coverage,” says Marilyn Tavenner, head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Already, Obamacare has dropped the uninsured rate in America from 18% to 15.6%. The official measure is likely to come in the fall, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention releases its National Health Interview Survey. However, it’s still predicted that there will be 30 million Americans that remain uninsured for the long haul. The reason? Many are illegal, undocumented immigrants, or residents of low-income neighborhoods who simply can’t afford it.
However, national figures aren’t as important as federal numbers, as insurance is based on local markets. The success of Obamacare is more dependent on how many enrollees sign up in each state. “There definitely is no magic number,” says Drew Altman, chief executive of the Kaiser Family Foundation. “It will vary a lot around the country.” Premiums also range in price around the country, depending on density of hospitals to residents, and rates of obesity and heart disease in a given area. In places like rural Georgia and Texas, applicants are facing higher premiums and costlier deductibles.
After the March 31st deadline passes, uninsured Americans (who haven’t qualified for an extension) face a $95 tax penalty. Obamacare is allowing enrollment after March 31st only if applicants have tried earlier and prevented by technical problems with the website. If Americans miss the deadline, they cannot sign up for coverage again until the start of 2015.
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