ANCHORAGE -

Despite a surge in the number of Alaskans signing up for insurance on the Healthcare Marketplace before the deadline, the final total falls short of the government's goal for the first open enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act.

Of the over 731,000 people in the state of Alaska, less than 13,000 chose to sign up for healthcare coverage in the federal health insurance exchange, just shy of the 16,000 federal officials were hoping for in the ACA's first year. That number includes applicants who were accepted between October 1 and March 31, and those who were signed up during special periods for enrollment due to major life changes.

“More than 12,890 Alaskans signed up through the Marketplace, demonstrating brisk demand for quality, affordable coverage,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in an official release. “Together we are ensuring that health coverage is more accessible than ever before, which is important for families, for businesses and for Alaska’s health and wellbeing.”

The number of newly insured Alaskans was broken down into several categories, ranging from age and sex to insurance plan types, and even who has paid and who hasn’t. Less than half of those who signed up were men, with women leading at 52 percent, and 38 percent of those enrolled were under the age of 35.

On a national level, the Obama administration was proud in announcing two weeks after the open enrollment deadline that eight million Americans had signed up to receive healthcare.

“The first open enrollment period under this law ended a little over two weeks ago. And as more data comes in, we now know that the number of Americans who’ve signed up for private insurance in the marketplaces has grown to 8 million people,” President Barack Obama proclaimed during a press conference.
“All told, independent experts now estimate that millions of Americans who were uninsured have gained coverage this year -- with millions more to come next year and the year after.”

Others, however, are not sure the initial numbers reported are showing the entire picture. A report issued by the House Energy and Commerce Committee showed that only 67 percent of Americans who enrolled under the healthcare law have paid their first premium, an indicator they say is more realistic in determining how many are truly covered as required by law.

“Who’s paid? That’s what Congress wants to know as the Obama administration refuses to be straight with the American public,” Full Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) said in a response to President Obama’s announcement. “The numbers on who has paid will give a much clearer and accurate assessment of the state of the president’s signature health care law. Who has fully enrolled in a health care plan and how many of those were previously uninsured?”

The House Energy and Commerce Committee wrote directly to each and every insurance company listed as providers for the federal marketplace, and compiled detailed data of every state’s enrollment information, including Alaska.

Sebelius initially stated that 88 percent of enrolled Alaskans had received federal financial assistance, but reporting insurance companies say only 66 percent of those enrolled had actually paid their first premiums, which is on par with the nation’s total. That would bring the number of fully enrolled Alaskans to nearly half of the goal for 2014.