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Public health insurance exchange signups grow in 2016

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About 12.7 million individuals signed up for coverage in public health insurance exchanges during the 2016 open enrollment season, a more than 10% increase over 2015, the Department of Health & Human Services reported Friday.

Of those 12.7 million enrollees, 9.6 million selected coverage in the 38 states in which coverage is offered through the federal exchange, while 3.1 million selected coverage in the 13 states, including the District of Columbia who have their own exchanges. About 11.4 million people signed up for coverage in the public exchanges in the 2015 open enrollment season.

The exchanges, a key component of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, first began operations in 2014.

That 12.7 million enrollment figure for the 2016 open season is in line with an earlier HHS estimate that followed the close of open enrollment on Feb. 1.

However, enrollment during the year is expected to decline as enrollees lose coverage because they didn't, for example, pay premiums or became eligible for other coverage, such as Medicare or through a new employer.

About 80% of 2016 enrollees were eligible for federal premium subsidies. Those premiums are available to enrollees with incomes between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level, which is set in 2016 at $11,880 for an individual and $24,300 for a family of four.

The average premium subsidy in the 38 states in which the federal exchange is offered, was equal to 73% of enrollees' premiums, HHS said, reducing the average premium paid by enrollees for all plans to $106 per month.

States using the federal exchange where enrollees paid the lowest monthly premiums, after allowing for the federal premium subsidies, include, Oklahoma, $80, Florida and Utah, each $84, and Louisiana, $86.

States where enrollees paid the highest monthly premiums after the federal subsidies include Ohio, $164, New Jersey, $161, Indiana, $156 and New Hampshire, $155.