(Bloomberg) — About 800,000 people have signed up for private “qualified health plan” (QHP) coverage through the public exchange system so far in January.
That’s pushed total Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) QHP enrollment to 3 million.
Exchange open enrollment started Oct. 1.
For now, HHS is using whether a consumer has selected a QHP, not whether the consumer has paid for the QHP coverage, as the trigger for counting the consumer as an enrollee.
The 3 million enrollee figure includes activity both at state-based exchanges and at HHS-run exchanges.
Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), touted the new January figures in a speech today in Jacksonville, Fla. Sebelius has been making many speeches in Florida, Texas and other large states in which Republican governors have refused to set up their own state-based insurance exchange programs.
The January enrollment total may indicate increased familiarity and interest in PPACA among people who previously had heard only about problems with the law, said Ron Pollack, executive director of the advocacy group Families USA.
When the exchange system opened in October, “people were bombarded about the politics and learned precious little about how it would affect their lives,” Pollack said in a telephone interview. “You’re seeing a significant acceleration that is just going to be larger and larger as we move toward the end of March.”