NC health insurance consumers drawn to policies

Emery p. Dalesio, Associated Press

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Health insurance enrollment during the first few months of the federal overhaul law was stronger in North Carolina than in all but four other states, a new report released Monday said.

Almost 108,000 North Carolina residents signed up for health insurance in the first three months since the Oct. 1 launch of new marketplaces for private policies.

Only California, Florida, New York and Texas signed up more people than North Carolina. All of those states have larger populations than North Carolina. California and New York run their own health insurance marketplaces, while North Carolina was among about three dozen states that opted to leave that task to the federal government.

More than 2 million Americans had signed up for government-subsidized private insurance through the end of December in new federal and state markets.

Only Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina and a subsidiary of Aetna are selling policies on the state's health exchange. Spokesmen for both companies last week refused to say how many policies they had sold and did not respond to messages Monday with new details.

Almost 90 percent of North Carolina policy buyers qualified for government subsidies in the first three months, more than the national average of eight out of 10 buyers.

The early purchasers in North Carolina matched the national trend of skewing toward older, costlier consumers. More than half the health insurance policies sold in North Carolina were to people who were 45 and older.

Fewer than one out of four policies were bought by young adults from 18 to 34, in line with the national average. Enrolling young and healthy people is important because they generally pay more into the system than they take out, helping offset the health care costs of older adults. Independent experts say young adults should make up about 40 percent of enrollments to help keep premiums down.

Open enrollment ends March 31.


Emery Dalesio can be reached at