SHERIDAN — Numbers recently released from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reveal that 11,970 Wyomingites purchased insurance on the Federal Exchange in compliance with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
Enrollment in the social programs Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program in Wyoming between October of last year and March of this year has fallen by more than 4,000 people.
Initial numbers released at the end of the open enrollment period were that approximately 9,000 Wyoming residents had purchased a plan on the exchange.
This month’s numbers reflected completed calculation of enrollments during the open period as well as other enrollment activity, which includes people enrolling later than the March 31 deadline because of qualifying events, or changes in life circumstances.
Operations Director for the Wyoming Institute of Population Health Tracy Brosius said 93 percent of people that enrolled in a marketplace policy either qualified or accepted financial assistance for their coverage.
“We take that as a sign that previously, finances were a barrier to them obtaining insurance,” Brosius said.
Federal statistics show that in Wyoming, 66 percent of enrollees selected the silver plan, while 23 percent went for bronze.
“Most people didn’t just get the bare bones minimum. They went for the more robust insurance plans,” Brosius pointed out, indicating people with pre-existing conditions are another group that has benefited with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. “A lot of people who needed insurance are now very pleased.”
Wyoming stats also show 39 percent of enrollees were under age 35, and 55 percent were women.
Before the open enrollment period began, federal estimates were that approximately 83,000 people in Wyoming were uninsured. By recent numbers, that number is likely now around 72,000.
Brosius said her agency, along with nine others that fall under the umbrella of Enroll Wyoming have conducted 75 educational events at hospitals and additional 100 at 23 different libraries across the state. She said to date, her team has driven almost 30,000 miles to do statewide outreach.
“That’s enough to go around the perimeter of the state 21 times,” Brosius said, adding that while federal projections were that around 13,000 people in Wyoming would enroll, she and her team are extremely happy the state met that goal in the 90th percentile.
The national health exchange will remain open throughout the year for customers who experience “qualifying events,” such as the birth of a child or the loss of a job, that make them eligible for mid-year enrollment.
While the same marketplace enrollment help is still in place in Wyoming and funding is expected to be approved this summer for another year of service, Brosius said the long-term goal of Enroll Wyoming is to equip communities with independent agencies that can guide people with ACA and enrollment questions.
“What we’re really working on is looking at what we can do over the summer to continue education and recruit other imbedded navigators into organizations that will be here for the long run,” she said.