CHARLESTON, W.Va. — More than 20,000 West Virginians are among the seven million Americans who’ve met a mandate in the Affordable Care Act and enrolled for health care coverage through the insurance exchanges created in the law.
“The law is doing what it’s supposed to do,” said President Barack Obama on Tuesday at the White House, a day after the first deadline for enrollment.
In the weeks ahead, the enrollment numbers could climb higher since those who started the enrollment process before midnight Monday have a grace period to complete those health plan enrollments for 2014.
While the national enrollment numbers are in line with projections, enrollments in West Virginia are off the mark, according to those with the only company offering health plans through West Virginia’s exchange.
“We were pleased with the way it picked up toward the end, but it’s still less than what we had originally anticipated,” said Fred Earley, president of Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, of the numbers.
In total, he said 14,839 West Virginians enrolled through the federal exchange website while 5,282 enrolled by directly contacting Highmark. Most of those enrolled through the federal exchange qualified for subsidies for the gold, silver or bronze plans.
Earley said, now that the enrollment window has closed, there will not be much time to fully review coverage costs.
“We’re now in the first of April. In the next 60 days, we’re really going to have to be finalized on what our products and rates are going to look like for 2015,” he said on Wednesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”
“So, we’re really not going to have much of a chance to gain a really good and thorough analysis of where we stood on our risk basis.”
Earley said the past six months, since the federal exchanges first opened, have been unlike any he’s seen before now. “It’s been an entirely different way for us to sell health insurance,” he said. “You really didn’t know what to expect, particularly after the problems that we saw early on in the process last October and into November.”
In addition to enrollments with Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, state officials said an additional 104,827 West Virginians have qualified for health care coverage through the Medicaid expansion.
That brings the total number of West Virginians covered under Medicaid to 461,354 or almost 25 percent of the state’s total population.
The next enrollment window for subsidized coverage through the federal exchanges, without some form of qualifying life event, will open in November.
“Under this law, the share of Americans with insurance is up and the growth of health are costs is down and that’s good for our middle class and that’s good for our fiscal future,” said President Obama. “And there’s no good reason to go back.”