- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Obamacare exchanges run by the federal government both retained a higher percentage of 2014 customers and added new ones at a better rate than states with their own portals, an analysis released Tuesday found.

Avalere Health, a Washington-based consultancy, says 34 federal exchanges re-enrolled 78 percent of their 2014 customers in 2015, on average, through HealthCare.gov, while 11 state-run exchanges for which it had data retained 69 percent.

Avalere said the discrepancy is hard to explain. One theory is that more state-exchange customers than federal ones over-reported their income in 2014 and then shifted onto Medicaid, the government health program for the poor.

California, the largest state-run exchange, shifted 200,000 enrollees into the program for 2015, Avalere said, but cautioned it is unclear why the state-run exchanges would be disproportionately affected by the phenomenon.

The federal exchanges increased enrollment by 61 percent from 2014 to 2015, to 8.8 million customers, while state-run exchanges upped enrollment by 12 percent, to 2.2. million, the study says.

While large-scale federal exchanges in Florida and Texas increased enrollment by 62 percent and 64 percent, respectively, large state-run counterparts in California and New York increased their customer base by just 1 percent and 10 percent.

“Federally-facilitated exchange states significantly outperformed their state-run counterparts in 2015,” said Caroline Pearson, senior vice president at Avalere. “Some of the higher 2015 enrollment may be attributed to initial technological issues with HealthCare.gov that may have depressed 2014 enrollment, however that alone does not explain why state-run exchanges did so poorly, relative to the federally-facilitated exchange states.”

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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