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Health exchanges cover 7.3 million people: HHS regulator

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About 7.3 million people were enrolled in federal and state health insurance exchanges as of Aug. 15, 700,000 fewer than the 8 million Americans who signed up for coverage during the first three months following the opening of the exchanges on Jan. 1, a top federal regulator disclosed.

There are several reasons for the decline in enrollment, Marilyn Tavenner, the administrator of the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, said Thursday at a House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing.

Each month, enrollment figures “will change slightly as consumers transition in and out of coverage as their life circumstances change — everything from getting a new job to moving to a new state, or becoming eligible for Medicaid or Medicare,” she said.

Even with the enrollment drop, the availability of the exchanges and premium subsidies to lower-income uninsured individuals likely has led to a big drop in the number of uninsured. Roughly, 85% of those enrolling in the exchanges were eligible for federal premium subsidies, according to earlier reports by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

With the subsidies, “the vast majority of consumers” who enrolled in the exchanges are paying premiums of $100 or less per month for their policies, Ms. Tavenner said.

In 2013 — prior to the launch of the exchanges, authorized by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — 42 million Americans, or 13.4% of the population, was uninsured, according to a report released earlier this week by the U.S. Census Bureau.