1,300 Mich. residents pick insurance from website - New York News

1,300 Mich. residents pick insurance from website

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By DAVID EGGERT
Associated Press

LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Slightly more than 1,300 Michigan residents chose a health insurance plan in the first month of enrollment in a federal marketplace created under the health care overhaul.

The number released Wednesday by the Obama administration confirms the problems people are having enrolling in private plans offered on a federal website. Michigan is among 36 states to let the federal government run the insurance exchange instead of having its own.

In Michigan, roughly 34,000 residents who applied for coverage were deemed eligible for the exchange. Of those, about 12,500 are eligible for tax credits to offset some of their premiums.

Separately, about 5,000 were ruled eligible for government-provided health care through Medicaid.

Coverage for exchange plans starts in January, and enrollment runs through March.

The state estimates at least 365,000 people could sign up on the market in 2014, while outside estimates put the figure at 127,000.

The release of the data prompted reaction from Democrats and Republicans who have battled over the 3-year-old health law, major provisions of which take effect in the 2014 election year.

U.S. Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., said 1.5 million Americans completing applications -- of which 106,000 followed through and picked a plan -- is a "meaningful start" despite logistical obstacles and opposition from the GOP.

The Michigan Republican Party said Michigan Democrats who voted for the law in Congress such as U.S. Senate candidate Gary Peters and gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer have not been aggressive in demanding fixes. At an event last month in Farmington Hills, Peters expressed frustration with the website and said "there was plenty of time to get this ready," according to local media.

Peters also has voted to delay the law's individual mandate by a year. Schauer is no longer in Congress.

The online, state-level insurance markets were envisioned as the new portal to coverage for people who don't have health plans on the job. But the federal market was overwhelmed by technical problems when it opened Oct. 1.

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