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A surprise success

Well, it’s Friday, which means an enrollment update from Maryland Health Connection. This report — the first of 2014 — is quite a bit rosier than those from recent weeks.

As of Dec. 28, a total of 18,257 Marylanders had enrolled in a private health plan from the exchange, a jump of 6,542 people since Dec. 21. That’s great progress — it’s the largest weekly increase since the exchange’s Oct. 1 launch — but it’s the Medicaid numbers that really have officials falling all over themselves.

On New Year’s Day, 111,148 people officially became new Medicaid enrollees. Here’s the breakdown of that group:

91,570 Marylanders had signed up for Primary Adult Care (PAC), a Medicaid-lite program that automatically enrolled those individuals in full Medicaid coverage beginning Jan. 1. Another 19,578 people signed up for Medicaid directly through the exchange, once the website determined they were eligible based on their income.

There are still many more Marylanders — 23,487 more to be exact, as of Dec. 28 — who had also been found eligible for Medicaid through Maryland Health Connection but have yet to become fully enrolled because their applications are still pending. Officials expect those people will be added to the program over the next few weeks. Their coverage will be retroactive to Jan. 1.

Figure shows enrollment in Qualified Health Plans (policies sold by private insurers that meet certain minimum standards) along with the number of people determined to be eligible for Medicaid.

Taken all together (including the pending Medicaid applicants), 152,892 people are on track to receive insurance. And there’s still three months left in the open enrollment period.

Wow. It looks like Maryland officials actually met their goal of enrolling 150,000 individuals within the first year.

Um. Did that really just happen?

(Of course, thousands of those people were already PAC enrollees, so they had some form of insurance before the reforms and aren’t technically “newly insured.” But nobody likes a nit picker.)

To see how far officials have come, take a trip down memory lane and have a look at enrollment numbers before the holiday season.