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‘Obamacare’ enrollment tops 204,000 in Arizona, 11.4 million nationally

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WASHINGTON – More than 204,000 Arizonans signed up for health insurance through the federal marketplace in the just-ended open enrollment period, according to numbers released Wednesday by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Arizona’s enrollment is up by more than 80,000 from last year – the first year of the Affordable Care Act, better known as “Obamacare” – when about 120,000 people signed up in the state.

“Hitting a milestone like 200,000 is a big deal – hitting even more than that is a huge deal,” said Pati Urias, Arizona communications lead for Enroll America. “It’s definitely very exciting to see that people are interested in getting health coverage and actually going to get it once it’s made available to them.”

Nationally, 11.4 million Americans enrolled for insurance through either the federal marketplace or one of the state-run marketplaces by the time enrollment for 2015 closed Sunday. That was about 10 percent more than federal officials said they were expecting.

At a news event to release the numbers, HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell said the Affordable Care Act has resulted in a “historic reduction” of the uninsured – “the largest over any period since the 1970s.”

“The Affordable Care Act is now an important part of everyday lives of millions of Americans,” Burwell said. “They finally have the financial health and security that comes with affordable health coverage.”

More than 24,000 Arizonans signed up for coverage in the last week of open enrollment – a last-minute surge that was seen across the country.

“In the final day, more new consumers signed up for health coverage through than any other day in open enrollment last year,” Burwell said.

She said the number could grow still, as state-run marketplaces report final numbers. And the enrollment period was extended for a week for the roughly 150,000 people who were in line and trying to enroll on when the enrollment closed Sunday night.

Kevin Counihan, CEO of, said in a conference call Wednesday that his staff is “aggressively pursuing outreach to each one of these folks … because we want to get them insured.”

Urias encouraged any Arizonans who were in line on Sunday but still haven’t selected their health plan to focus on completing that application.

“Their period to finish up the process will come very, very quickly and it’s something that they should focus on at this moment,” Urias said.

Counihan said that he was pleased with the number of people that enrolled, which he said was up 10 percent from what they were expecting.

“When you see this kind of momentum, it tends to validate … that we’re providing products and services that people value,” Counihan said.

That value was something Burwell said she saw again and again as she traveled to 17 cities to promote enrollment, she said.
“I heard from the folks I met that they’re tired of the back-and-forth here in Washington and they want us to work together so that we can move forward,” Burwell said.

“One thing is for sure: Americans don’t want the progress that we’ve made to be taken away from them,” she said.