December was the month that Obamacare desperately needed.
Spurred by the approaching deadline to sign up for coverage that started in January, Americans finally showed up to HealthCare.gov and its state-based counterparts in droves — and for the most part those websites were finally able to accommodate them. About 1.8 million people signed up in December alone, about five times the total enrollment in October and November combined.
With such a significant surge, some states are starting to make serious progress toward covering their uninsured population.
The map above shows aggregate enrollment numbers by month as a percentage of the estimated eligible populations for Medicaid and private insurance obtained through the Obamacare exchanges.
In general, the states that have embraced the health care reform law by expanding Medicaid and building their own marketplaces are performing best in signing people up for coverage. Vermont, for example, has enrolled 37 percent of its potential eligible population, the highest proportion in the nation. Washington is close behind at 30 percent.
By sheer numbers, California is unsurprisingly leading the pack: 500,000 Californians have enrolled in private coverage, and 182,000 have been found eligible for Medicaid. New York sits in second with nearly 250,000 enrollees in Medicaid and private coverage combined.
Among the 36 states using HealthCare.gov, December was by far their best month. Florida’s private coverage enrollment boomed from less than 18,000 at the end of November to 158,000 as of Dec. 28. Texas had enrolled roughly as many as Kentucky in the first month, less than 15,000, before its enrollment shot to 119,000 last month. The combined deadline pressure and the finished fixes to the federal website likely contributed to rapid improvement.
Here’s how we built the above map.
Private Insurance Enrollees: The enrollment numbers were pulled from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’s October and November reports. The estimates for potential eligibles come from a Kaiser Family Foundation report on the potential size of each state’s market for Obamacare coverage.
Medicaid Enrollees: The enrollment numbers were pulled from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’s October and November reports. If not available there, they were pulled from state reports. The estimates for potential eligibles combine estimates from an Urban Institute report on adult Medicaid expansion and those already eligible for Medicaid but who are not enrolled and on another Urban Institute report on those already eligible for the Children’s Health Insurance Program but who are not enrolled.
One important note: The potential eligible estimates were not produced by an official government source. By combining independent estimates on the various populations that could enroll in coverage through the law’s marketplaces — the private market and the Medicaid/CHIP population — we have attempted to create a meaningful picture of how each state is doing in getting its residents covered.
Another note: A “0” has been entered if HHS reported “N/A” in that enrollment category and no additional information is available.