Healthcare Exchange enrollments by Alabamians up in Nov. - WFXG FOX54 Augusta - Your News One Hour Earlier

Healthcare Exchange enrollments by Alabamians up in Nov.

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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

According to new figures released by the US Department of Health and Human Services, enrollments from Alabamians on the federal exchange, Healthcare.gov were up in the month of November.

Overall, 25,282 applications were completed on the website that was plagued by glitches and technical errors when it opened on October 1. Those applications would cover 48,916 lives.

However of the total applications that have been completed, only 34,015 of those individuals are even eligible to enroll in a plan that's available on the marketplace.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley campaigned on a platform to set up a state-based health insurance marketplace but later backtracked and decided to let the federal government run Alabama's exchange. He even organized a commission whose task it was to research and come back with recommendations regarding an Alabama healthcare marketplace. When the commission came back with recommendations to set up an exchange, the governor ignored them.

Other figures released by HHS detail the number of people in Alabama who signed up on the exchange for coverage and were informed they would be eligible for Medicaid coverage or the Children's Health Insurance Program under the Affordable Care Act.

3,074 enrollees would be eligible for the two programs.

After a June 2012 US Supreme Court ruling, states were given the option to expand Medicaid to individuals and families with incomes at or below 138% of the poverty line. That equates to roughly $30,000 of annual household income for a family of four or about $17,000 for an individual.

Gov. Bentley announced in November 2012 that he would not expand Medicaid in Alabama. He said at the time that he did not want to expand a "broken system."

Medicaid in Alabama has become one of the most costly programs in all of state government. The state pays more than $600 million annually to pay for the program which accounts for more than a third of all non-education spending.

There are approximately 990,000 Alabamians on Medicaid.

Under Medicaid expansion, the federal government would cover the entire cost of the expansion population for the first three years and gradually decrease its share to 90% by 2020. States would have to cover the difference.

Alabama has until Dec. 31 to make its decision on Medicaid expansion final.

According to several studies, it's estimated that Alabama would have to pay roughly $700 million over six years to pay for Medicaid expansion and approximately $250 million annually starting in 2020 to cover the new population.

Studies conducted by the Alabama Hospital Association and the Kaiser Family Foundation concluded that Alabama could gain as much as $1.2 billion in new tax revenue and 30,000 jobs as direct results of Medicaid expansion.

The state has no role in the federal exchange. All plans were submitted by individual health insurance companies in accordance with state insurance requirements.

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