Health Care

Nearly 600,000 Floridians signed up for Obamacare plans so far, feds say

Florida leads the 38 states using the Affordable Care Act insurance exchange at healthcare.gov with nearly 600,000 people signed up through Dec. 5, federal health officials said Wednesday. In 2015, Florida also led all states using the exchange, with 1.3 million people covered. In this 2015 photo, a man dressed as the statue of liberty advertises for an Affordable Care Act enrollment center on a Little Havana sidewalk.
Florida leads the 38 states using the Affordable Care Act insurance exchange at healthcare.gov with nearly 600,000 people signed up through Dec. 5, federal health officials said Wednesday. In 2015, Florida also led all states using the exchange, with 1.3 million people covered. In this 2015 photo, a man dressed as the statue of liberty advertises for an Affordable Care Act enrollment center on a Little Havana sidewalk. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Five weeks into open enrollment season, nearly 600,000 Floridians have signed up for coverage through the Affordable Care Act's insurance exchange at healthcare.gov, federal health officials reported Wednesday.

Among the 38 states using the federal exchange, including Florida, about 2.8 million Americans have signed up for a plan, including about one million new consumers and about 1.8 million who renewed their coverage.

Open enrollment began Nov. 1 and runs through Jan. 31. But an important deadline is coming up on Dec. 15, which is the cut-off date for people to buy coverage that begins on Jan. 1.

As Dec. 15 approaches, more people have been visiting healthcare.gov, calling the help line and meeting with enrollment counselors to sign up for coverage, said Andy Slavitt, acting administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, which operates the federal exchange.

“Just like last year,” he said in a conference call with reporters, “we are now seeing a surge as we get closer to deadline.”

This year, Slavitt noted, people are signing up at a faster pace. last week there were more consumers who signed up for coverage than signed up during same week last year.

Slavitt said more than a quarter of those who signed up had renewed their coverage from 2015 — a rate that exceeds renewals at the same period last year.

The Obama administration has projected that 10 million people nationwide will be covered through the insurance exchange at the end of 2016, and so far sign ups are on pace to meet those estimates, he said.

For the period through Dec. 5, CMS reported that 598,279 Floridians had signed up for a plan on healthcare.gov, making the Sunshine State the top enroller among the 38 states using the federal platform.

Daniel Chang: 305-376-2012, @dchangmiami

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