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Public health insurance exchange enrollment expected to grow in 2016


Enrollment in public health insurance exchanges is expected to grow modestly in 2016, according to a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services analysis released Thursday.

By the end of 2016, enrollment in the exchanges — a key component of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — is expected to range from 9.4 million to 11.4 million, up from an HHS-projected enrollment of 9.1 million at the end of 2015.

Exchange enrollment at year-end 2016 of 10 million individuals “is a strong and realistic goal,” HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell said in a statement accompanying the report.

“We've seen high levels of satisfaction with the (exchange) marketplace and expect the vast majority of our current customers will re-enroll,” Ms. Burwell added.

In its enrollment projections, HHS estimates that between 7.3 million to 8.8 million individuals — mostly lower-income Americans eligible for federal premium subsidies — now enrolled in plans offered through the exchanges will select or automatically enroll in exchange plans next year.

In addition, between 2.8 million and 3.9 million uninsured individuals will opt for coverage during the 2016 open enrollment, while between 900,000 and 1.5 million individuals who now have coverage outside the exchanges will select an exchange plan in 2016.

Combining those projections, HHS estimates that between 11 million and 14.1 million individuals will sign up for coverage during open enrollment, which generally begins on Nov. 1.

But by year-end 2016, enrollment will be lower compared to the number of people who signed up for coverage during open enrollment.

“As is the case with any well-functioning market, HHS expects to see customers come and go as their life circumstances change,” such as when enrollees drop coverage when they land jobs and become eligible for employment-based coverage, HHS said.

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