Last updated: May 02. 2014 10:48AM - 297 Views
JUSTIN JUOZAPAVICIUS Associated Press



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TULSA (AP) — More than 69,000 Oklahomans have selected health care plans on the new insurance markets created by the federal health overhaul, according to data released Thursday by President Barack Obama’s administration.


The government reported that 69,221 Oklahomans signed up for a plan between Oct. 1, 2013, and March 31. The figure demonstrates “brisk demand for quality, affordable coverage,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement.


“Together we are ensuring that health coverage is more accessible than ever before, which is important for families, for businesses and for Oklahoma’s health and wellbeing,” she said Thursday.


Earlier enrollment numbers showed that only 32,882 Oklahomans had chosen a plan through March 1 — well below the Obama administration’s goal of 84,000 enrollees for the state.


Supporters of the new health plan marketplace touted the enrollment figure given that Oklahoma offered no help promoting the exchange and wouldn’t announce community activities designed to get more people signed up.


“Just knowing those facts, (the total enrollees) are a little bitty miracle in Oklahoma,” said Grace Burke, director of senior outreach and education who also oversees the marketplace enrollment program for Morton Comprehensive Health Services in Tulsa. Her group was helping would-be enrollees in the final two days before the March 31 cutoff period.


“It’s not a bigger number, but it took us a lot of effort to get that final push,” which helped double the number of enrollees in the last six weeks before the deadline, Burke said.


National enrollment numbers released Thursday by the Obama administration said about 8 million Americans have picked a plan under the new federal health program. About 4.8 million more gained coverage through Medicaid and children’s insurance programs, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


Among the 69,221 Oklahomans who selected a plan:


— 56 percent are female and 44 percent are male


— 36 percent are under 35


— 29 percent are between 18 and 34


— 66 percent selected a Silver plan, while 24 percent selected a Bronze plan


— 79 percent selected a plan with financial assistance.

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