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More than 29,000 Iowans enroll in marketplace

Published: Friday, May 2, 2014 11:17 a.m. CST

DES MOINES (AP) — More than 29,000 Iowans signed up for health insurance in the six months since the new federal marketplace was launched, according to a report released Thursday.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said that 29,163 Iowans enrolled between Oct. 1 and March 31. Nearly half signed up in a late surge in March, the final month of the first national enrollment period.

Iowa is among 36 states relying on the federal website to enroll residents in the health marketplace, which is part of the federal health care law. The state fell short of the federal government’s projection that 41,000 people would enroll. Results varied across the nation, with 20 states falling below the federal estimates.

Of those who successfully enrolled in Iowa, 84 percent qualified for federal assistance to help pay for their plans. About one-fourth of the new enrollees were between ages 18 and 34.

The report doesn’t count Iowans who bought policies outside of the federal website, healthcare.gov. Iowa’s largest health insurance provider, Wellmark Blue Cross & Blue Shield, decided not to offer policies through the website this year but continues to sell insurance on the regular market. The company has said it plans to sell policies on healthcare.gov next year.

Nationally, more than 8 million people signed up by the end of the first national enrollment period. That includes 5.4 million who signed up through the federal marketplace. Another 2.6 million enrolled through state marketplaces.

“Together we are ensuring that health coverage is more accessible than ever before, which is important for families, for businesses and for Iowa’s health and well-being,” U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement Thursday.

The federal health care law allows Americans to choose a plan through government-based marketplaces where insurers have to offer a basic level of coverage.