- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 11, 2015

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - More than half of Kansans who signed up for the federally run insurance exchange this year are new enrollees.

The Topeka Capital-Journal (https://bit.ly/1wXwX46 ) reports that 52 percent of about 96,000 people who signed up through the exchange in Kansas were new customers, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The department says the number of Kansans who re-enrolled in the program was split between people who returned to the exchange after looking at other plans, and those who automatically re-enrolled without shopping around.

About 60 percent of Kansans who shopped around chose a different plan than the one they had in 2014.

According to the department’s acting assistant secretary for public affairs, price was a significant motivator for people who switched plans nationwide. Making sure certain doctors are in their insurance network was a factor as well.



“It’s difficult to pinpoint one thing,” said Kevin Griffis, who is the acting assistant secretary for public affairs for the department. “The enrollees were engaged in a way we don’t normally see.”

Mena Seshami, the director of the office of health reform at the department, said the concerns that the exchange would only attract sick and elderly people have been unfounded so far. According to Seshami, about 28 percent of people who signed up nationwide are between the ages of 18 and 34. About 36 percent are younger than 35 if children are included.

“We’re satisfied with where we are,” she said.

A special enrollment period will begin Sunday for people who were unaware that they would have to pay a penalty last year and want to avoid one this year.

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Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, https://www.cjonline.com

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