(AP image/HHS)

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) public exchange system helped 8.02 million people sign up for private “qualified health plan” (QHP) coverage by April 19, up from 7 million March 31.

The individual QHP open enrollment period started Oct. 1 in most of the country and originally was supposed to end March 31. Many exchanges offered enrollment period extensions for most or all consumers in their markets.

The public exchange programs run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) increased the number of plan selectors 14 percent between March 31 and April 19, to 4.8 million, according to a new HHS exchange enrollment report.

The state-based exchanges increased their enrollment 11 percent over that period, to 2.3 million.

PPACA critics have blasted HHS for failing to publish information about the number of enrollees who actually paid for coverage, rather than simply signing up for coverage.

HHS is using the term “pre-effectual enrollment” to refer to people who have signed up for coverage and are not yet known to have paid for the coverage, and the term “effectuated enrollment” to refer to known paid enrollment, officials said.

Officials cited reports of executives at companies such as WellPoint saying that a large percentage of consumers who have signed up for their coverage have paid for it.

Officials noted that they do not yet have any data on enrollment in private health plans outside the PPACA public exchange system but hope to have that data next year.

The size of the non-exchange commercial health insurance market is important because PPACA risk-adjustment programs include PPACA-compliant, non-exchange plans as well as the QHPs sold through the exchanges, officials said.  

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