ATLANTA — More than 55,000 Georgians signed up for health insurance exchange coverage during a “special” four-month period through the end of June.

This period came after regular open enrollment ended in February.

The signups during the special period included people who lost job-based coverage, got married or had a baby since late February.

Overall, more than 940,000 Americans took advantage of these changes in circumstances to obtain coverage in 37 states that use the federal exchange, part of the Affordable Care Act.

Georgia’s enrollment of 55,581 was the third highest total in these states, after those of Florida and Texas.

Federal figures showed that of the Georgians in this special signup period, 46 percent had lost previous insurance or the minimum coverage that the ACA requires.

Another 19 percent found out they were not eligible for Medicaid; and 20 percent obtained coverage during a tax season enrollment period for people who discovered they would have to pay a penalty for not having health insurance.

The national figures, reported last week by federal officials, do not reflect how many of these people actually started paying premiums.

The state’s special enrollment figure is about 10 percent of the total of more than 530,000 who signed up for coverage during the regular open enrollment period.

“The 10 percent is a little high but it is not out of bounds, especially in the individual market,” Bill Custer, a health insurance expert at Georgia State University, said Monday.

“In any year, there are people who are going to lose job coverage.”

Custer predicts that Georgia’s uninsured rate will dip from roughly 20 percent as a result of the ACA, but that the state will still have one of the highest percentages of adults without coverage. That’s because Georgia has not expanded its Medicaid program under the ACA to cover low-income adults, he said.

Georgia’s Republican leaders have rejected that move, saying it would be too costly to the state.

People can sign up for health insurance on the exchange 60 days after certain changes in life circumstances. Those include a change in family status, such as a marriage, the adoption or birth of a child, and loss of other health coverage. They also include young adults who reach age 26, and become ineligible to stay on their parents’ health plan.

The latest enrollees included a higher percentage of consumers aged 34 or younger than during the regular open enrollment.

The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said the higher number may reflect younger consumers transitioning between jobs, moving off their parents’ health insurance plan, or experiencing other life changes, such as marriage or a new child.


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