- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 12, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Nearly 12,000 Iowa residents have signed up for private health insurance plans using the federal enrollment website healthcare.gov, according to a new report out Wednesday.

The numbers from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services cover the first four months of enrollment under the health care law. The report shows that 11,788 people in Iowa enrolled in private health insurance between Oct. 1 and Feb 1.

That number has grown substantially over the past month. About 7,500 signed up during the first three months the healthcare.gov website was available. The site was plagued with technical difficulties at first, preventing many from signing up in the early months.

Overall, 33,511 Iowa residents have applied for and been deemed eligible to enroll in a marketplace plan and 19,661 of them qualified for financial assistance. Of the 11,788 who have selected a plan and signed up, 83 percent qualified for tax credits to cover part of the premium costs. Another 25,566 were eligible for low-income health programs like Medicaid.

More older Iowans have signed up so far. Thirty-seven percent of the enrollees are between the ages of 55 and 64, compared with 24 percent who were between 18 and 34. And slightly more women signed up than men. Fifty-six percent of the enrollees were female.