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First-time Enrollees Make Up Nearly Half Of Utah’s ACA Sign-ups

More than 140,000 people signed up for health coverage in Utah before the Feb. 15 deadline.

140, 221 people in Utah signed up for a health insurance plan through the Affordable Care Act during the Open Enrollment period that ended Feb. 15. Those are the numbers reported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Jason Stevenson with the Utah Health Policy Project, a nonprofit organization that helps people in Utah get health coverage, says the numbers reflect a big increase over last year.

"That was well above what we were expecting. Our initial goal was about 105,000, but it just kept on going up and up, and it's been very busy over the past two weeks as the enrollment deadline closed on Feb. 15," Stevenson said.

Stevenson says it appears that about 40 percent enrolled for the first time, with the rest re-enrolling. He adds that about eighty percent of those who enrolled are eligible for a government premium subsidy.

Stevenson says the enrollment process is much smoother than it was last year and people also seem to have more knowledge about the Affordable Care Act. He says word of mouth advertising also seems to have played a role in the strong enrollment numbers.

"As more and more people got this insurance, they started talking about it. They said, 'Hey look, you can get insured for $50 a month, get your whole family signed up for $150 per month,' and that word of mouth has really spread," Stevenson said.

Health and Human Services reports that nationally, 11.4 million consumers selected plans or were automatically re-enrolled during the three-month Open Enrollment period.