Young adults are increasingly signing up for Obamacare health insurance plans, officials said Wednesday as they revealed nearly 3.3 million people of all ages had enrolled as of Feb. 1.
"It's very encouraging news," said US Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius about the overall enrollment data.
"These encouraging trends show that more Americans are enrolling every day and finding quality, affordable coverage in the marketplace," Sebelius said.
Open enrollment in Obamacare closes March 31.
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A spokeswoman for Sebelius on Wednesday firmly said "No" when asked if HHS has considered extending open enrollment past that deadline, which is also the date by which most Americans must have some form of health insurance or face a tax penalty of up 1 percent of their income next year.
Sebelius said the percentage of enrollees who were between the ages of 18 and 34 grew by by 3 percentage points, to 27 percent, in the month of January over the prior three months, outpacing all other age groups.
The share of young adults among Obamacare enrollees is now 25 percent, compared to 24 percent by the end of December. That is still well still below the 40 percentage target some insurance experts said is necessary to hit to adequately offset the costs from older, sicker enrollees.
A total of 3,299,492 had enrolled in Obamacare plans between Oct. 1, the opening of enrollment, and Feb. 1, according to HHS.
January's total enrollment was 1.1 million people. That month's tally represented a sharp drop from December's tally of nearly 1.79 million, which came right before the deadline for obtaining coverage as of Jan. 1. But January's total was slightly above what had been originally projected for the month's enrollment by the Congressional Budget Office.
The CBO, which had originally projected that 7 million people would sign up for Obamacare by March 31, recently issued a new projection, of 6 million enrollees by that date.
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CNBC's own tally of Obamacare enrollment, which also takes into account data reported this month by various states, reveals that 3,445,895 people had enrolled in plans nationally as Wednesday.
Sebelius noted that a total of 9.6 million people have either enrolled in Obamacare private plans or been qualified for government-run Medicaid health coverage since Oct. 1. Another 3 million or so people under age 26 are covered by the parents' insurance plans, which is another feature of President Obama's Affordable Care Act.
Sebelius's spokeswoman, Julie Bataille, said HHS does not have data on what percentage of people have actually paid for the Obamacare plans they have selected. If people don't pay for their plans, their insurance will lapse, thus driving down enrollment totals.
Bataille also did not have data on what percentage of people who have enrolled were previously uninsured. Obamacare critics have suggested that a significant number of enrollees are people who were previously insured by individual plans, many of which were cancelled or failed to comply with minimum standards set by the Affordable Care Act.
Other details included in HHS's report:
- 1.9 million people have enrolled so far in Obamacare plans sold via the federally run HealthCare.gov marketplace, whose botch launched in October dramatically crippled the first two months of enrollment. HealthCare.gov sells plans in 36 states.
-1.4 million people enrolled in plans sold by 15 other health exchanges run by the remaining states and the District of Columbia.
- 55 percent of enrollees are women, and 45 percent are men.
- 82 percent of enrollees are eligible for federal subsidies to offset the cost of their premiums, and, in some cases, to offset the cost of out-of-pocket medical expenses. That is a 3 percent increase in
- 62 percent of enrollees have selected a so-called "silver" plan, whose premiums are in the middle range of Obamacare exchange plan prices. Another 19 percent have selected less expensive "bronze" plans, whose premium prices reflects the fact that those plans tend to have higher out-of-pocket costs.
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-By CNBC's Dan Mangan. Follow him on Twitter @_DanMangan
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