Fewer West Virginians getting health insurance via ACA exchange

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — More than 19,000 West Virginians have enrolled in health insurance plans for 2021 with either Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield or CareSource via the state’s exchange, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The total exchange enrollment number at healthcare.gov reported this week was 19,381.

The number represented a decline from last year’s enrollment number, at the same time, of 20,066.

It was the continuation of a downward trend.

Enrollments were at 22,599 for 2019 and 27,000 for 2018 in initial January figures.

The final numbers may change depending on premium payments.

The exchange or marketplace was created in the Affordable Care Act to offer people without other health insurance options, like an employer plan or Medicare, subsidized health insurance coverage to people who qualify.

In West Virginia, most people are eligible for a subsidy of some size.

For the first time, CareSource plans were available statewide for 2021 alongside those from Highmark. Last year, CareSource was an option in 44 counties.

West Virginia is one of 36 states with exchanges that use the healthcare.gov platform.

Nationwide, the total exchange enrollment numbers for 2021 in the U.S. were around 8.3 million.

That was about the same as 2020 enrollments even without New Jersey and Pennsylvania which changed to state-based platforms for 2021.

Together, the two states accounted for about seven percent of all plan selections during the 2020 open enrollment period.

For 2021, the open enrollment period was from Nov. 1, 2020 to Dec. 15, 2020 for coverage to start on Jan. 1, 2021.

Special enrollment periods were available for qualifying life events like marriages, births, adoptions, moves outside of coverage areas, income changes or loss of job-based health insurance coverage.

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