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350,000 Kansans and Missourians Signed Up For Coverage On HealthCare.gov Exchange

Twice as many Kansans and Missourians signed up for health insurance this year under the Affordable Care Act compared with the first enrollment period last year, new figures released Tuesday show.

More than 250,000 Missourians and nearly 100,000 Kansans selected plans on the federal insurance exchange, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

The data reflects complete enrollment numbers for the period from Nov. 15, 2014, through Feb. 15, 2015, and includes additional special enrollment activity through Feb. 22.

Overall, nearly 11.7 million people nationwide signed up for coverage through HealthCare.gov or through exchanges operated by the states, HHS said.

Neither Kansas nor Missouri set up their own exchanges, or insurance marketplaces, so residents had to sign up through the HealthCare.gov platform. Only 14 states operate their own exchanges.

About 52 percent of Kansas and Missouri enrollees were new, the data show. The rest re-enrolled.

Eighty percent of Kansas enrollees and 88 percent of Missouri enrollees received federal subsidies in the form of tax credits to help pay for their insurance, HHS said.

As was the case in nearly every state, older consumers accounted for the biggest single group of enrollees. People age 55-64 made up 25 percent of those who signed up in both Kansas and Missouri.  

The average monthly premium in Kansas was $301, HHS said, falling to $90 after tax credits. In Missouri, the average premium was $363, falling to $82 after tax credits.

About 11 percent of those who selected plans were Latinos and 17 percent of African Americans, unchanged from the first enrollment period. HHS cautioned those figures probably underrepresent the actual numbers because nearly a third of enrollees did not identify their race or ethnicity.

Though the official open enrollment is over, HHS has created a special open enrollment extension to help consumers who were confused about the deadlines and tax penalties for failing to obtain coverage. The so-called extra enrollment period lasts through April 30.

Alex Smith is a reporter for KCUR, a partner in the Heartland Health Monitor team.

As a health care reporter, I aim to empower my audience to take steps to improve health care and make informed decisions as consumers and voters. I tell human stories augmented with research and data to explain how our health care system works and sometimes fails us. Email me at alexs@kcur.org.
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