By Ferdous Al-Faruque - 06/02/14 11:54 AM EDT
The number of people who bought health insurance on their own outside of the ObamaCare exchanges surged at the beginning of the year, according to a new report.
The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates between 3 million and 3.5 million new people signed up for health insurance either through insurance companies or brokers in March.
Under ObamaCare, people had to have insurance by the end of March to avoid a tax penalty next year. The administration eventually extended this deadline to the middle of April to give people more time to sign up for plans.
The administration has said 8.1 million people signed up for an ObamaCare plan by the beginning of April.
Kaiser’s findings suggest that the number of people purchasing health insurance grew even accounting for people who saw their existing plans canceled because of new requirements under ObamaCare.
“This first look at the direction of enrollment suggests that, even accounting for people leaving the market, the number of people purchasing their own health coverage grew substantially and likely continued to grow toward the end of the enrollment period,” said Kaiser.
The report notes that its estimates only cover two-thirds of the nation’s insurance providers, as many companies do not release numbers on a quarterly basis and because it does not account for people who signed up to begin insurance plans in April and May.
Based on the available data, the number of people who bought individual insurance outside the healthcare law was about 29 percent higher by the end of March compared to last December.
”What these numbers suggest is that enrollment in the individual market grew rapidly in early 2014, and most likely continued to grow through April and May as many plans took effect in those months,” added the report.