- The Washington Times - Friday, May 2, 2014

Nearly half the states, or 44 percent, met or exceeded their enrollment expectations under Obamacare, according to a new analysis that assumes about 15 percent of customers will not pay their first premium and effectuate coverage.

Avalere Health, a Washington-based consultancy, said Florida, California and Idaho led the pack by far exceeding expectations.

“The large uptick in enrollment in March and early April brought many states over the finish line in terms of projected enrollment for 2014,” said Caroline Pearson, a vice president at Avalere.

The District and Hawaii came in last, chalking up less than half of expected enrollment after accounting for attrition due to nonpayment.

Avalere’s study highlights the wide state-by-state variance in final Obamacare numbers released by the Health and Human Services Department on Thursday.

The Obama administration has hailed its numbers, noting its web stumbles out of the gate when HealthCare.gov crashed in October and prevented consumers in 36 states from enrolling with ease. Several state-run exchanges had balky web exchanges, too.

Ultimately, 22 states fared better than they thought they would, according to Avalere.

It takes a keen eye to evaluate what success means under the new data, now that enrollment has come to a close in all but a few states. For example, New York State had the fourth most sign-ups overall but enrolled only 49 percent of its expected participants, Avalere noted.

Political discourse out of Capitol Hill tends to pitch the health care law as either a success or failure. But analysts warn that risk pools are grouped by state and insurer participation varies, so geography can play a key role in how insurers set rates or compete in the coming year.

“Once again, the data paint a diverse and complex picture. Enrollment significantly beat expectations in some states but fell short in others,” said Elizabeth Carpenter, a director at Avalere. “Regional variation is a key feature of the current exchange marketplace, and it could impact carrier decisions to participate in some markets in 2015.”

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