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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • Over 150K sign up for health plans in Missouri

  • More than 150,000 Missouri residents signed up for health insurance policies through a federally run website, easily exceeding projections due to a surge of people who waited until a looming deadline to enroll.
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  • More than 150,000 Missouri residents signed up for health insurance policies through a federally run website, easily exceeding projections due to a surge of people who waited until a looming deadline to enroll.
    The figures released Thursday by President Barack Obama's administration were touted by Missouri health care advocates who had been promoting the program through advertisements, community events and social media.
    "These numbers really reflect the need in Missouri. Consumers were seeking quality, affordable health insurance," said Ryan Barker, vice president of health policy at nonprofit Missouri Foundation for Health.
    With a little more than a month to go before the March 31 enrollment deadline, about 68,000 Missouri residents had selected a health insurance plan through the federal website — well shy of the target of 118,000 people set by Obama's administration. Enrollment more than doubled in the final month, for a total of 152,335.
    The figures released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services do not indicate how many of people followed through on their enrollment by paying their insurance premiums. They also do not indicate how many of those people previously were uninsured and how many switched from a different private health insurance plan.
    Missouri had about 800,000 people without health insurance.
    The state could have run its own health insurance exchange, but lawmakers decided to let the federal government do it. Missouri's Republican-led Legislature has tried to avoid any participation in Obama's health care law.
    The online insurance marketplaces were intended to be just one means of reducing the ranks of the uninsured. They offer federal tax credits to subsidize insurance policies for people live above poverty. The federal law also had envisioned that Medicaid health care programs would be expanded to adults earning up to 138 percent of the poverty level, or nearly $33,000 annually for a family of three.
    But about half the states, including Missouri, have declined to expand Medicaid eligibility. As a result, there are thousands of low-income Missouri residents who neither qualify for Medicaid nor qualify for subsidized insurance policies through the online marketplace.
    Of those who signed up for policies in Missouri, about 85 percent received financial assistance, according to the figures from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
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