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Covered California Sees Slight Drop In Renewals

Rich Pedroncelli / AP Photo

FILE - In this Feb. 12, 2015 file photo Laura San Nicolas, right, and her daughter Geena, wait to meet with an enrollment counselor to sign up for health insurance at Sacramento Covered in Sacramento, Calif.

Rich Pedroncelli / AP Photo

Covered California - the state's health insurance marketplace - saw an increase in new enrollees last year. But those gains were offset by a drop in renewals. 

About 1.5 million Californians signed up for insurance through Covered California during the three-month open enrollment period that ended January 31st. That's a two percent drop compared to last year - about 35,000 fewer people.

"There could be a number of different reasons for that," says James Scullary with Covered California. "Certainly we're seeing a strong economy here in California. More people may have job-based coverage as an option and not have a need for Covered California because they're getting health care coverage through their employer."

Scullary says another reason may be because some people who make too much money to qualify for subsidies could get better deals elsewhere.

"We did encourage consumers who were not receiving financial assistance to take a look at whether or not purchasing coverage directly from a carrier may be a better value for them," says Scullary, "so that could also be another extenuating circumstance."

Of the 1.5 million Californians that signed up last year, more than 380,000 are new customers, a slight uptick from the previous year.

Covered California was created under former President Barack Obama's health law. California is one of 11 states, plus the District of Columbia, that runs its own health insurance exchange.

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