Washington • Nearly 3.3 million people have signed up for health insurance through the marketplaces established by President Barack Obama’s health care law and about one-fourth of them are young adults, the administration said Wednesday.
The administration reported a modest uptick in the enrollment of young adults, a group avidly sought by insurers because they are usually healthier and need fewer costly medical services.
In a new report on enrollment, the administration said that 1.9 million people had selected health plans in the federal marketplace from October through January, while 1.4 million chose plans in state-run insurance exchanges. In January alone, officials said, more than 1.1 million people signed up for insurance in the federal and state exchanges.
"These encouraging trends show that more Americans are enrolling every day and finding quality, affordable coverage in the marketplace," said Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services.
In January, 318,000 people ages 18 to 34 selected health plans, bringing the total in this age group to 807,500, officials said.
The administration’s goal was to have 4.4 million people signed up by now, according to a memorandum prepared in September by the Department of Health and Human Services. But the federal insurance website, HealthCare.gov, got off to a rocky start, thwarting many people who tried to sign up in October and November.
The new data show that people buying insurance on the exchanges still tend to be older and potentially less healthy.
Of those who signed up in the last four months, administration officials said, 53 percent are age 45 to 64. About 25 percent of those choosing a health insurance plan are 18 to 34. People 55 to 64 — the range just below the age at which people qualify for Medicare — represented the largest group, at 31 percent.
The open enrollment period continues until March 31. People who go without insurance after that may be subject to tax penalties, although the Internal Revenue Service has indicated that it prefers public education over aggressive enforcement in the first year of the "individual mandate."
Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, said Wednesday that many of "the new enrollees in Obamacare exchange plans are actually folks who were already insured" or eligible for Medicaid.
Nearly four years after it was signed by Obama, the Affordable Care Act remains a divisive political issue, and administration officials say that Republican attacks on the law have made it more difficult for them to persuade people to enroll.
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