Private insurance surging past Medicaid

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Dan Goldberg

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The state released new numbers today showing that enrollment in the private health insurance market has surged ahead of Medicaid signups.

New York has enrolled 31,362 people in its Medicaid program and 69,519 residents have signed up for private insurance plans through New York's exchange.

New York is running its own exchange and the state's website has not been plagued with the same glitches that have hampered the federal government's website, which is managing enrollment for 36 states.

The latest news from the state's department of health is huge for proponents of the Affordable Care Act because it shows robust interest in the private marketplace, which is critical for the law's success.

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The private plans on the exchange are the cornerstone of the new law and they must have a large and diverse risk pool for premiums to remain stable.

Through the first two months of enrollment, New York had been reporting an almost even split between Medicaid and private insurance enrollment but the balance has now dramatically shifted.Last week, the state reported that about 41,000 people had signed up for Medicaid but that turned out not to be true because many of the people who enrolled through the state's online exchange had also signed up through their local districts.

As part of routine oversight, state department officials weeded out duplicate applications and adjusted the tally.

What that means is New York saw an even bigger jump in the number of private insurance plans purchased through the exchange than previously thought. Based on the new tally, the number of people using the exchange to buy private health insurance jumped 40 percent in just one week.

New Yorkers have until Dec. 23 to sign up for coverage that begins Jan. 1.

An additional 314,000 state residents have completed an application and need only pick a plan before they are covered. The vast majority of those applications are for the private market, not Medicaid.