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Archives: KHI News Service

On January 1, 2017, the KHI News Service became part of KCUR public radio’s new initiative, the Kansas News Service. The Kansas News Service will continue to cover health policy news and broaden its scope to include education and politics. All stories produced by the former KHI News Service are archived here. Stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to KHI.org.

Kansas marketplace enrollment jumps by 30,000 in one week

Numbers likely to top last year despite health insurer’s departure

By Meg Wingerter | December 22, 2015

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 10:15 a.m. Jan. 4 to correct the penalty amounts for not having insurance in 2016.

More than 80,000 Kansans have signed up for 2016 coverage through the federal insurance marketplace — a bump of about 30,000 in the week before the deadline.

The Kansas Association for the Medically Underserved reported 84,631 people in Kansas and 253,099 in Missouri had enrolled through healthcare.gov as of Saturday. The enrollments were close to the totals for last year’s sign-ups.

On deadline

About 50,000 people in Kansas and 130,000 in Missouri had signed up for insurance through healthcare.gov as of Dec. 12, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

As of Dec. 19 — a week later — those numbers has climbed to 84,631 people in Kansas and 253,099 in Missouri.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services had set a deadline of Dec. 15 to get coverage that would start Jan. 1, but later extended the deadline to the early-morning hours of Dec. 17.

Sheldon Weisgrau, director of the Health Reform Resource Project in Kansas, said the numbers were a positive sign that the decision by two companies under the Aetna corporate umbrella — Coventry Health & Life Insurance Co. and Coventry Health Care of Kansas Inc. — to pull out of the Kansas marketplace didn’t cause consumers to walk away.

More than half of the Kansans who enrolled in the marketplace last year had a plan through Coventry, he said. The Health Reform Resource Project is partly funded by the Kansas Health Foundation, which also funds the Kansas Health Institute, parent organization of the editorially independent KHI News Service.

“We were expecting a lot of confusion and consternation with consumers, and we haven’t seen a lot of that,” he said. “Our navigators are reporting that consumers aren’t that upset, it’s not that big of a deal, and they’re happy to go in and look at new plans.”

HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell said 8.2 million people had signed up through the federal marketplace as of Saturday, which was up from about 6.4 million people at the same time last year. About 2.4 million of those who signed up this year were new to the marketplace, and the population skewed younger than last year’s, she said.

Open enrollment closes Jan. 31 for coverage starting March 1. After then, people who aren’t insured can only purchase coverage through the marketplace if they have a qualifying event, such as losing job-based insurance.

The penalty for not having insurance in 2016 will increase to $695 per adult and $347.50 per child, with a maximum $2,085 per family, or 2.5 percent of household income beyond the tax filing threshold of $20,300 for a couple – whichever is higher.