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Tuesday, May 22, 2018
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Feds: 1 million Floridians sign up under new health law

The Obama administration says 8 million Americans — and nearly 1 million Floridians — chose a health plan on the new insurance markets in the first year of the historic health care overhaul.

The Sunshine State far surpassed White House goals, although enrollment among Hispanics and the crucial so-called “young invincibles” — 18- to 34-year-olds — appears low. That trend was found nationally as well.

Officials did not say how many had paid their first month’s premium, but Wellpoint, one of the largest insurers, estimated about 90 percent had paid.

Of the 983,775 Florida enrollees, about 28 percent were young invincibles.

Officials did not break down state enrollment by ethnicity. More than 8 million signed up nationally and 10 percent were Hispanics and 17 percent were African-Americans.

Florida has led the way among enrollment for the 36 states using the federal exchange.

Nationally, more than 4.8 million more gained coverage through Medicaid and children’s insurance programs, the Department of Health and Human Services said.

Numbers released Thursday showed a surge in enrollment since March 1, doubling in some states, including Texas, Georgia and Florida.

The numbers were disappointing for one group. Hispanics account for 14.5 percent of those eligible for coverage on the new health insurance markets, but they represented 10.7 percent of the actual enrollees who also volunteered their race or ethnicity, the government reported.

Even though the administration is claiming huge successes, the Congressional Budget Office projects more than 40 million people will still be uninsured this year, and a more complete picture of who’s still uninsured won’t emerge until next year with the first results from large national surveys.

“Beyond a doubt, the number of uninsured Americans has fallen by millions. Whether it’s 5 million or 15 million still isn’t clear,” said Larry Levitt, an expert on health insurance markets at the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. “The low enrollment among Latinos is an indication of where challenges still lie: the hard-to-reach groups where more outreach is probably needed.”

The next enrollment period for private health insurance coverage for 2015 under the health law is scheduled to run Nov. 15 through Feb. 15.

“They’ve had some success,” Levitt said, “but they’re going to have to do it all over again next year and get more people signed up to succeed.”

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