- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 11, 2014

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The number of Pennsylvanians signing up for insurance under the 2010 federal health care law rose by 30 percent in February, reaching a total that is equal to one in 10 Pennsylvanians who were estimated to have been uninsured.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a report Tuesday with the figures for all states through March 1. It showed that nearly 160,000 Pennsylvanians - 159,821 to be exact - have signed up for coverage through the federally run online insurance marketplace. That was up from about 123,700 reported at the end of January.

The figure is nearly the 164,800 that the Obama administration initially had hoped would sign up in Pennsylvania through the end of February, and its projections for 206,000 signups by the end of March, when enrollment ends, appeared attainable.

National numbers showed that 4.2 million people signed up for health insurance through March 1. The government’s initial target was 7 million by the end of March, but it has since revised that to 6 million.

Federal officials are unable to say how many of those who signed up were previously uninsured. Enrollment for the year began Oct. 1, but was slowed in October and November by glitches in the website, Healthcare.gov, that is a primary gateway to the federally run online insurance marketplace.

A recent study by Families USA, a group that supports the health care law, said nearly 900,000 Pennsylvanians would qualify for a federal tax credit. About 1.5 million out of 12.8 million Pennsylvanians were uninsured in 2012, according to U.S. Census figures.

Pennsylvania is relying on a federally run online insurance marketplace, like 35 other states, because Gov. Tom Corbett declined to take on the task.

The health insurance plans are accessible to Pennsylvanians through Healthcare.gov, and people with low to moderate incomes are eligible for a tax credit to help subsidize the cost of insurance.

Insurers are also signing up people to plans that comply with the law, but not through the marketplace. For instance, Pittsburgh-based Highmark said Tuesday that it had signed up 74,000 to one of its plans through the marketplace and nearly 34,400 outside of it.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians who might be eligible for Medicaid were being contacted by state caseworkers after their applications through Healthcare.gov were held up by computer glitches.

A Department of Public Welfare spokeswoman said Tuesday that the agency has received information on 43,000 applicants whose electronic applications were stuck on servers at the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for months. The Department of Insurance is handling 6,000 of the applicants because that agency administers the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Medicaid in Pennsylvania is typically off-limits to working-age adults, unless they are low-income parents or are disabled.

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