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Health marketplace enrollment hits expectations, CareSource says.

Dayton-based CareSource said enrollment in its new Affordable Care Act health plans has met or exceeded expectations in terms of the age and demographics of the more than 12,000 customers who have selected its Just4Me brand health insurance.

CareSource, the largest Medicaid managed care provider in Ohio with more than 1 million customers, began selling private insurance through the ACA’s health care marketplace for the first time this year.

Most Just4Me enrollees are new customers who were previously uninsured, according to Steve Ringel, CareSource’s recently named Ohio president. And based on their age, insurance plan selection and income levels, the first wave of Just4Me enrollees are showing positive signs for the rest of the year, he said.

“We’re hitting our target population exactly how we wanted,” he said. “We wanted to serve the folks who were being subsidized and who were representative of the folks who needed help.”

Most plans sold in the marketplace, excluding catastrophic plans, are eligible for tax subsidies to help offset premiums costs, depending on income. The plans are separated into four metal tiers: bronze, silver, gold and platinum.

But only the silver plans offer subsidies on premiums and deductibles for individuals earning from about $11,000 to $29,000 a year, and families of four with incomes between $23,000 and $95,000 a year, based on last year’s poverty level.

“That’s our sweet spot,” Ringel said before marketplace enrollment began last October.

So far, 85 percent of Just4Me enrollees have picked silver plans, which is in line with federal projections, Ringel said. But surprisingly, the average family size has been higher than expected, he added.

“We thought their would be a lot more singles signing up, but we’re seeing an average of about two people” per household, Ringel said. “We think that’s good news, because the demographics show that the people who really need this care are families.”

CareSource, which hopes to enroll as many as 150,000 Just4Me customers over the next two years, is one of a dozen companies in Ohio selling qualified health plans that meet ACA requirements to individuals and families in the health care marketplace.

Government figures show total marketplace enrollment in Ohio was 39,955 through Dec. 28, giving CareSource control, roughly, of between 25 and 30 percent of the market.

But Ringle said CareSource’s market share is closer to 40 percent in many areas of the state, although he warned that it’s probably too early to read too much into the initial enrollment data.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has yet to report enrollment data for January, and no one can be sure how enrollment will finish by this year’s final deadline, March 31.

“We won’t truly know how the enrollment period went until April or even May,” Ringle said. But “we are so pleased with our mix.”

That mix includes more young people between the ages of 18 and 34 than had originally been projected, Ringle said, alleviating fears that too many enrollees would be older people who can be more expensive to insure because they often have more health problems than young people.

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