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.”

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  • NCWV62

    Once again, I have to say this: West Virginia has become the street beggar of the nation. Your hands can't be doing work if they are always palm-up waiting for a handout.

  • pc

    25% on Medicaid in 2014, and growing. Add that number to all the related "freebies" that these people receive- - -rent subsidies, free cell phones, free incontinence products, free, free, free. . .Not to mention tens of thousands more on food stamps, etc. Not surprising, WVU study this week noted state's population will continue to decline until at least 2030. With such a lack of a strong state wide work ethic, is there any wonder that prudent and smart business leaders do NOt want to locate and

    • pc

      /or expand in West Virginia?

      Not to worry, though, folks such as those cheerleaders for Medicaid expansion and Obamacare have constantly screamed for months (see the various columns and editorials in the Charleston Gagzette) that this expansion would create thousands of good jobs. Strange, though, that this is not reflected in the just released WVU study about the state's population and job prospects projections!

      • Mburg worker

        It is very funny that people like you are so quick to present your opinion against anything that is put forward to help others - particularly the poor and needy. Never see any arguments against the farm bill that is designed to given welfare to wealth land owner and big farmers. Never hear anything about the welfare given to the oil and caol companies. Everybody in the United Stated pays taxes. If you by gas, food, clothes, pay phone bill, gas bill, electric etc... What is the problem with wanting everyone to have health insurance? Is it better for us to go back to the days when the poor and uninsured used the emergency rooms for their health care, running up hugh bills which they are not able to pay? Or is it better to have individuals pay (by participating in the process) for the services they receive? It is good to get facts and not just depend on talking points.

        • susanf1218

          Cry me a river!! 1/4 of West Virginia's population is now on Medicaid?? And you think this is a good thing?? Not so much for those of us who are working and paying taxes to support these people! And the only taxes that many of them payis for their booze and cigarettes that they somehow always seem to have enough money for, but not for anything else!

        • pc

          Are you living under a rock? Read the main article again. 25% of the state population on Medicaid. Plus all the other free social service items mentioned. You say everyone pays taxes, well, no everyone does not pay income taxes. Millions do not pay income taxes (they get them all back). Ever heard of EITCs (Earned Income Tax Credits)? You say is it better for individuals to pay for services they receive. Well, just what or how much do Medicaid recipients pay out of pocket for the medical services they receive? The state of West Virginia cannot survive with a stagnant population, little economic growth (jobs creation), and having those who do work continue to pay for more and expanded services for an ever increasing number who do not work, or work very little!!

  • Perplexed

    West Virginia's government leaders have failed its citizens over the last 40 years by not taking steps to diversify West Virginia's economy. The workforce has become heavily blue collar, 2nd oldest and least educated in the country. Now we have no money to make the necessary investments to turn it around while surrounding states invest tens of millions.

  • Woodchuck0

    The entire state budget will go to the under privileged and non workers.

    Keep working fools, the poor need the money.

  • Buck

    Q. - What does 80+ years of democratic control get us?
    A. - Almost 25% of the state's population covered under Medicaid. (which we cannot afford) Disgusting.


    So those of us who joined the military or pursued a skill so we could be gainfully employed now get to subsidize those who were lazy and did nothing to enrich their life in order to support themselves or their families! Unbelievable....the Affordable Care Act will be paid for (subsidies) by the middle class. so once again, the poor or lazy get taken care of again at the middle class's expense. obviously, the rich don't care as it doesn't affect their wallets enough to even discuss. So keep popping out those welfare babies and keep WV at the top of the disability list.

    • Anna

      At least you two have to be in the running for the "Most Coldhearted" award.

      • golfnutwv

        When I stand in line at the grocery store and see an individual with the debit card from the taxpayers buying food that I can't afford and use their cash for cigarettes and beer, I continue to wonder how this can be. This makes me coldhearted.

      • fed up

        Put me in the running, also..I totally agree with them. I am not Coldhearted, but I believe that people need to be responsible and take care of themselves-without my hard earned tax money and subsidies. If you cannot make a living where you are at, then move....

        • john

          Fed Up: I agree 100%...tell 'em like it is!

    • vashti

      your summation Mr. WVirginan for Life points out your lack of knowledge on this bill. The bill is designed to help those who fall through the cracks because they don't make enough money at their job to pay for insurance. the fact that so MANY WV qualify for medicaid speaks to the fact that there is a lack of good paying jobs here not laziness or welfare. Our Welfare rolls are at the lowest point in history of the state. if you are truly concerned about people as your moniker indicates you would be more interested in wealth inequality and a true hike in the minimum wage to a livable amount. That would not only increase revenues but remove some of the burden from the assistance programs that now subsidize companies like Wal Marts low low prices.

  • David

    How could anyone be proud that one out of every four West Virginians is on Medicaid? That is a very sad commentary on the reality of our state.

    • toofunny

      I agree. How could anyone be proud? Sad for West Virginia.