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States foresee more insurance customers

States foresee more insurance customers

WASHINGTON — USA TODAY made a survey and shows that from the 19 states operating health insurance exchanges to help the uninsured find coverage, at least 8.5 million will use the exchanges to buy insurance. That would far outstrip the federal government's estimate of 7 million new customers for all 50 states under the 2010 health care law.

USA TODAY contacted the 50 states, and 19 had estimates for how many of their uninsured residents they expect will buy through the exchanges. About 48 million Americans were uninsured in 2011, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Under the law, also known as the Affordable Care Act, people without health insurance provided by their employers, the government or their parents will have to buy insurance on the exchanges, which are websites where they can compare prices and choose policies. They will pay a fine if they decline to buy the insurance.

To stay financially viable, insurers need healthy people to help round out the costs of those with chronic conditions. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office did its own research to determine 7 million people would enroll for the 2014 exchanges.

California alone said it expected to sign up 5.3 million people.

To diversify the health of the pool, the Department of Health and Human Services has targeted three states where half of uninsured people ages 18 to 35 live: Texas, Florida and California.

The states said they made their estimates based on how many individuals are uninsured and aren't likely to become insured by an employer, what insurers in their states expect and conversations with HHS about reasonable goals.

Source: USA Today

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