Federal health exchange enrollments more than doubled in Missouri and nearly doubled in Kansas in the weeks leading up to the enrollment deadline, according to figures released by the government Thursday.
In Missouri, enrollment through the federal marketplace shot up to 152,335 - a 105 percent increase over the number who selected a health plan by the end of February. In Kansas, enrollment increased to 57,013 - a 95 percent jump over February.
"I think those numbers really reflect the need in Missouri and that consumers were seeking quality, affordable health insurance," said Ryan Barker, vice president of health policy at the Missouri Foundation For Health.
Overall, 5.45 million people nationwide have signed up for health insurance since October through the federal marketplace - more than double the 2.6 million who had signed up by the end of February. More than 8 million have signed up through both the federal and state marketplaces, exceeding the Obama administration's initial goal of 7 million.
It is not known how many people who signed up were previously uninsured. Nor is it known how many paid their initial premiums, which is required to trigger coverage.
The new figures cover people who chose plans through March 31 as well as those who got an extension through April 19 because they had trouble enrolling.
Kansas and Missouri do not run their own exchanges. Rather they use the federal marketplace.
Other key figures from Thursday's report:
- In both Missouri and Kansas, 55 percent of the enrollees were female and 45 percent male.
- In Missouri, 36 percent were under age 35. In Kansas, 38 percent were under age 35.
Despite what she generally saw as upbeat news, Kansas Commissioner of Insurance Sandy Praeger said that low enrollment by African Americans and Latinos was disappointing. The government for the first time released self-reported data on race and ethnicity.
“We just need to do more in terms of outreach and get to those minority populations," she said.
In Kansas, 5 percent of enrollees described themselves as African American and 5.5 percent as Latino. Another 1.7 percent described themselves as multiracial. In Missouri, the figures were 9.3 percent, 1.6 percent and 1.1 percent, respectively.