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Monthly exchange plan activity soars

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The new public health insurance exchanges brought in completed applications for many more people in November than in October.

Completed application growth was stronger for state-based exchanges than for the exchanges run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The raw number of people who enrolled in commercial “qualified health plans” (QHPs) through the public exchanges also grew sharply, both at state-based exchanges and at HHS exchanges.

But the percentage of applicants who were found to be eligible to sign up for QHPs and had actually enrolled in QHPs was much higher at the state-based exchanges than at the HHS exchanges.

HHS, the federal department overseeing the agencies that run the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) exchange program, released cumulative individual exchange activity figures for Oct. 1 through Nov. 30 today.

The exchange enrollment period began Oct. 1 and is currently set to end March 31. Current rules call for applicants who want individual coverage to start Jan. 1 to make their first premium payments by Dec. 23.

HHS is using whether QHP applicants have chosen health plans, not whether they have paid their premiums, as the indicator for QHP enrollment.

A comparison of the new figures with November activity figures shows that all state-based and HHS exchanges combined have received applications for a total of 3.7 million people, up from 1.5 million people a month earlier.

The exchanges received applications for about 2.2 million people in November, up 45 percent from the October count.

Monthly application inflow grew 75 percent at the state-based exchanges, to about 933,000, and 24 percent at the HHS exchanges, to 1.2 million.

About one-quarter of the applicants who have gotten through the eligibility determination process have qualified for Medicaid or other government health insurance programs.

The number of applicants who qualified to apply for QHP coverage and actually signed up for plans increased to 258,497 in November, from 106,185 in October, producing a two-month total of about 367,000 QHP enrollees.

QHP selection rose 85 percent at the state-based exchanges, to 147,577, and 312 percent at the HHS exchanges, to 110,410.

But, because the raw number of HHS exchange QHP signups has been low, only about 9 percent of the HHS exchange users who are eligible to apply for QHPs have picked plans.

At the state-based exchanges, the share of eligible applicants who have picked QHPs is about 29 percent.

A total of 1.9 million people, including 554,397 at the state-based exchanges and 1.4 million at the HHS exchanges, are in the pool of people who are considered eligible to sign up for QHP coverage but have not yet selected plans.

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