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Public health exchange enrollment could increase up to 70% in 2015: Consultant

Public health exchange enrollment could increase up to 70% in 2015: Consultant

Enrollment in public health insurance exchanges by the end of 2015 is projected to increase between 40% and 70%, with enrollment falling in a range of between 9.5 million and 11.5 million, a health care consultant estimates.

Even if the actual enrollment is closer to the lower range in the estimates made by Avalere Health L.L.C. in Washington, it would be substantially higher than the most recent administration estimate made in November of current enrollment: 6.7 million.

“Growth in 2015 enrollment is helping to solidify the exchanges as a viable commercial market for health plans and consumers,” Avalere CEO Dan Mendelson said Tuesday in a statement.

Avalere's estimate is substantially lower than an earlier Congressional Budget Office projection for 2015 of 13 million enrollees in the exchanges created by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. However, the projection is higher than the most recent Obama administration estimate of 9.1 million for 2015 enrollment, made in November by Department of Health and Health Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell.

In coming out with its estimate, Avalere projects that the exchanges will attract between 4.5 million and 6 million new enrollees by Feb. 15. Avalere estimates that nearly 1 million individuals enrolled for the first time since the 2015 open enrollment season began Nov. 15.

However, based on 2014 exchange experience, about 16% of those new enrollees may drop coverage by the end of the year, either by not paying the required premiums or by voluntarily dropping coverage.

In addition, Avalere says it isn't yet known what percentage of the current enrollees will drop coverage.

One reason, Avalere says, that enrollment will not reach CBO projections is low public awareness, with many Americans unaware of the availability of federal premium subsidies to the lower-income uninsured to purchase coverage in the exchanges.

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