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St. Louis-area enrollment for health insurance through ACA on an upswing

Adrian Clark | Flickr

The numbers are in: 253,969 people in Missouri signed up for health insurance on Healthcare.gov this year, or were automatically re-enrolled in their plan. That’s about 100,000 more than last year’s open enrollment period.

Laura Burbank, an enrollment application counselor at Planned Parenthood in St. Louis, said demand during this year’s open enrollment season started high and never slowed down.

“It’s a shorter enrollment period, so we were worried about that. But seeing that we enrolled even more people this year shows that the Affordable Care Act is working and more people are getting access to healthcare,” Burbank said. She also serves as a regional hub manager forCover Missouri, an arm of the Missouri Foundation for Health that is working to reduce the number of uninsured people in the state.

Health insurance enrollment was even higher on the other side of the river: Illinois had 347,300 people sign up.

The number of people buying health insurance spiked in the last weeks of the four month enrollment period, which officially ended Feb. 15. Officials extended the deadline until Sunday, for people who tried to sign up but ran into technical difficulties.

During a conference call with reporters, Healthcare.gov Marketplace CEO Kevin Counihan said he’s pleased with the results.

Implementation of the ACA is a five-year implementation, we’re really just in the second half of the first year. That being said, we’re very pleased with the stability of the system, the consistency of the consumer experience,” Counihan said.

People who remain uninsured through all or part of 2016 may be subject to a tax on their income next year.