Who's enrolling for health insurance? Not the uninsured

Police watch as doctors and other medical professionals stand outside the U.S. Supreme Court.

Citing a new survey from McKinsey & Co., the Wall St. Journal reports that only 11 percent of the 2.2 million Americans who have purchased health insurance on state or federal exchanges were previously uninsured. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services hasn’t released any data on this yet.

The insurance companies aren’t thrilled. The industry expects the Affordable Care Act will ultimately lead to millions of new customers.

In a certain way, this could be seen as a positive for the companies. There’s a general concern that the uninsured will get coverage and need lots of procedures and tests, costing lots of money. If the number of uninsured patients remains modest that means that most of the customers have had insurance before. That means a potentially less expensive customer – which is what the insurance companies want.

In the report, 30 percent of consumers sited technical trouble purchasing plans. 52 percent said plans were cost prohibitive. Many healthcare observers expect previously uninsured people to sign up for plans prior to the March 31st enrollment deadline.

Even if they don’t, PricewaterhouseCoopers Ceci Connolly says insurers are well aware the new healthcare law is just beginning.

"They are really viewing 2014 as the learning year. It’s almost as if we’ve got our bicycle and our training wheels because so much of this is brand new territory,” Connolly says.

About the author

Dan Gorenstein is the senior reporter for Marketplace’s Health Desk. You can follow him on Twitter @dmgorenstein.

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