1/3 of Obamacare enrollees in Calif.

Covered California scored more than a third of the enrollments under the nation’s Affordable Care Act in its first month, federal numbers show.

The state health insurance exchange indicated 30,830 enrollments were logged during October. Federal numbers, however, showed 35,364 California enrollments through Nov. 2.

Covered California CEO Peter Lee at press conference for October enrollment

Covered California CEO Peter Lee at Sacramento press conference for October enrollment figures.

Covered California’s own figures for the first month of Obamacare policy sales said about 375,000 applications were started, with 86,000 found eligible for subsidized or unsubsidized coverage via the state’s insurance marketplace.

The state and federal numbers released Nov. 13 did not indicate how many people had actually completed the enrollment process and were set for coverage beginning Jan. 1.

Just over 72,000 people using the California service were considered “likely eligible” for Medi-Cal. The federal number was 396,261 (including children).

Nationally, 106,185 people enrolled for Obamacare policies and selected a healthcare plan in the period Oct. 1-Nov. 2. Another 975,407 applied and received an eligibility determination, according to a Department of Health and Human Services report.

(The California and federal reporting periods are slightly different, with the state using the calendar month of October.)

Covered California had been criticized for waiting until mid-November to release signup figures, although state officials said they expected mostly comparison shopping and lookyloos during the first 30 days.

“We expected October to be a month of kicking the tires,” Covered California chief Peter Lee said at a Nov. 13 press conference announcing the state numbers. For November, he said, about 29,000 residents picked healthcare plans. The pace is about 2,000 enrollments a day, officials said.

Covered California said its results pointed to “strong consumer enrollment interest” in Obamacare policies.

“The word of a positive experience is quickly spreading,” Lee told reporters in Sacramento. The Covered California web site has been relatively free of trouble, unlike the buggy and sometimes disfunctional federal web site.

Covered California projects in its newly released annual report that “by January 2015, more than 1 million Californians will enroll using federal subsidies,” while “1.7 million Californians will benefit from the new insurance rules and get coverage without a subsidy.”

The federal enrollment figures showed California more than doubled the signups in the No. 2 state, New York (16,400). The HHS report spotlighted California’s marketing efforts and outreach to minorities.

Fourteen states are running their own Obamacare marketplaces. In addition to California and New York, states leading in enrollments were Washington (7,091), Kentucky (5,586) and Connecticut (4,418). All told, 79,391 people enrolled via the state exchanges and selected their policies. That means 21 percent of those who are eligible have selected their plans.

The state-run Obamacare web sites logged 7.4 million unique visitors Oct. 1-Nov. 2, HHS said. Their service centers handled about 923,000 phone calls.

Embattled HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said: “We expect enrollment will grow substantially throughout the next five months, mirroring the pattern that Massachusetts experienced (with its pre-Obamacare health insurance program).” The first month in Massachusetts netted 0.03 percent of the first year’s policy buyers.)

Open enrollment continues through the end of March, although the deadline for coverage beginning Jan. 1 is Dec. 15.

Meanwhile, Covered California released its annual report to the governor Nov. 12. CEO Lee said in the report: “We are confident California will continue to lead the way in successful implementation of the nation’s most significant health reform since the enactment of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965.”

Read the HHS report on Affordable Care Act enrollments as of Nov. 2, 2013 (PDF).
Read the Covered California annual report to the governor (fiscal year 2012-2013).

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