DENVER (AP) – Colorado released a first look Monday at how many people have signed up for health insurance using its new state exchange.
Officials with Connect For Health Colorado said 226 people have signed up for insurance using the exchange, for a total of 305 people getting coverage. That’s the tally from the exchange’s first week, Oct 1-7.
It’s a smaller number than reported in other states running their own exchanges. Kentucky, for example, had more than 18,000 people signed up by Oct. 9, and tiny Rhode Island had 580 signed up by Oct. 3.
But officials with Connect For Health Colorado, the state’s insurance shopping place, said they’re pleased with enrollment numbers so far.
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Ben Davis, a spokesman for the exchange, said Colorado is on pace to meet its target of having 136,000 people get health insurance through the exchange by the end of 2014. He touted the bigger numbers of uncommitted shoppers.
More than 18,000 people have created online accounts to start shopping, exchange officials said. Nearly 10,000 people had called for help navigating the system.
“This is a much more complicated purchase than buying a T-shirt at gap.com,” Davis said. “We expect people to take their time and really weigh their options, and that’s what they’re doing.”
Colorado is one of 14 states that set up its own insurance exchange rather than rely on the federal government’s exchange. The federally run exchange, used in 36 states that declined to create their own, has been beset by technical delays.
Colorado had a few glitches in its opening days. And customers are still being asked to complete their purchases by phone to ensure they get appropriate government subsidies based on their incomes.
A Republican critic of the new health care law, U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner of Yuma, said Colorado numbers are an embarrassment given how much the state spent marketing and explaining Connect For Health Colorado. Gardner cited ads at Denver Broncos games and TV campaigns.
“Look, if you spent $21 million on a bake sale and sold 10 dozen muffins, that would be a complete disaster,” Gardner said.
Davis said officials are pleased with the early performance of the exchange. More than half of visitors to the website have made a return visit, he said.
“It’s going really well,” Davis said.
– By Kristen Wyatt, AP Writer
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