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WEDNESDAY, Feb. 12, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Nearly 3.3 million Americans have signed up for health insurance through the state and federal marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration announced Wednesday.
About 25 percent of those who have selected a health plan are young adults, aged 18 to 34.
That demographic has been considered crucial to the success of the health reform law, often called Obamacare, because young people help offset the cost of covering older, sicker individuals.
The administration's new enrollment report shows that 1.1 million people selected a health plan in January.
"With the benefit of a full month of January data, we're able to paint a more holistic picture of enrollment to date, and it's very encouraging news," U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said during a Wednesday afternoon news conference.
Since Oct. 1, 2013, 1.4 million people have selected a health insurance plan through one of the state-based marketplaces and 1.9 million entered via the federal marketplace, HealthCare.gov.
The health marketplaces, or exchanges, got off to a rocky start last October, when the federal website and some states experienced problems that made enrolling difficult.
The current open enrollment period continues through March 31.
The U.S. Congressional Budget Office now expects 6 million people to sign up for coverage in 2014. That's 1 million fewer enrollees than it had originally projected.
The new report also highlights the following results:
- Fifty-five percent of the nearly 3.3 million enrollees are women.
- A large majority -- 82 percent -- of those who selected a plan are eligible for financial assistance. That's up from 79 percent from October through Dec. 28, 2013.
- Some 3.2 million people have been deemed eligible for Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). This number reflects only those who entered through the marketplaces. It does not include people who applied for coverage through state Medicaid or CHIP agencies.
The new report does not indicate how many people who signed up for coverage through the exchanges have paid their premiums. Nor does it indicate how many previously uninsured Americans have enrolled through the new marketplaces.
However, the results of a new Gallup survey released Wednesday show that the number of uninsured adults in the United States dropped to 16 percent from January to early February. That is the lowest level in five years.
Anne Filipic, President of Enroll America, said the numbers were encouraging, if not surprising. The nonprofit group works to enroll as many people as possible in health insurance plans.
"Enrollment in the Health Insurance Marketplace continues to accelerate every month, and almost 3.3 million people have now enrolled in private coverage since the marketplace opened, in addition to the more than 6 million who have gotten covered through Medicaid," she said in a statement.
"Particularly encouraging is the fact that young adult enrollment grew by 65 percent in January, the biggest increase of any age group," Filipic added. "Based on past enrollment efforts, our research and what we're hearing in the field, we've always said that young people would wait until later in the open enrollment period to make their decision, and we're now seeing that pattern begin to play out."
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SOURCE: Feb. 12, 2014, news conference with: U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius; Feb. 12, 2014, statement, Anne Filipic, president, Enroll America; Feb. 12, 2014, news release, U.S. Health and Human Services Department