Enrollment spending much higher in state-run Obamacare exchanges, study shows

Half of federal aid went to just 17 exchanges

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A new study shows “striking” differences in state-to-state spending to get the uninsured enrolled in health coverage through an Obamacare exchange, with state-run markets spending nearly $12 more per uninsured resident than states that relied on the federal exchange system.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s data put spending, on average, at $17.15 per uninsured person in the state-run exchanges versus $5.42 in the 34 states that let the federal government set up their marketplace.

Differences in spending likely impacted final enrollment totals during the sign-up season from October to March, researchers said.

The highest average spending occurred among states that took on consumer assistance duties as part of a state-federal partnership exchange, which invested an average of $31.53 per uninsured resident.

The 16 states — plus Washington, D.C. — that set up their own exchanges received 50 percent of all federal funding for consumer assistance, the study says. The 29 federally run exchanges received just a third, even though those states account for 63 percent of the nation’s uninsured residents.

“The availability of federal money and the type of marketplace were huge factors in the amount states spent to enroll the uninsured,” said Katherine Hempstead, who leads coverage issues at foundation. “The real question, which can only be answered in time, is how big of a role states’ consumer assistance programs played in overall enrollment success.”

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