Is Working, Even Though It's Enrolling Old People

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Data released from the government on Monday shows that both federal and state-based Obamacare exchanges have hit about 65 percent of their cumulative targets. Still low — and still mostly older, less healthy enrollees — but at least people can sign up.

The New York Times published a table with the most recent data from the states. Overall, about 2.15 million people have enrolled for private plans, with another 1.58 million signing up under Medicaid. According to the Times, 80 percent of those selecting private plans are eligible for subsidies.

Enrollment in private plans, by state

That 2.15 million figure is pretty far from the 7 million the administration wants to see by March 31. Of more concern, particularly to insurers, is that those who've signed up are older than hoped. This, too, was predicted; it's older, less healthy people who wanted new policies more urgently. The individual mandate of Obamacare is meant to compel those who see less urgency in enrolling to do so.

Percent of private enrollees who are 18 to 34 years old

As The Washington Post notes, the slow rate of enrollment by young people mirrors what Massachusetts saw when it unveiled its similar health care program.

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What's really remarkable, given the past few months, is that federal and state exchanges are nearly even in terms of cumulative enrollment.

Percent of three-month target for private enrollments

While states that ran their own exchanges were more likely to get up to speed quickly and to exceed their three-month targets, overall, states relying on the federal exchange have done about equally well in hitting overall targets. On average, states running their own exchanges have met 73 percent of their targets; federal states, about 67 percent. But of the 1.47 million people state exchanges aimed to enroll by the three-month mark, the states have enrolled about 950,000 — 64.8 percent. States using the federal exchange have enrolled 1.2 million of their 1.84 million target — 64.9 percent. This is in large part due to states like Maryland and Oregon continuing to have trouble in enrolling applicants. While the federal exchange got fixed, theirs didn't.

Enrollments hit the halfway mark on December 31. In order to avoid a penalty, users must have coverage for at least nine months of 2014, so March 31 is the last day to remain uncovered. Expect, at long last, a big advertising push trying to get people — especially young people — to sign up. After all, the federal exchange finally works.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.