Sales for health care plans outside the exchanges surged at thebeginning of the year, according to new analysis.

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The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that roughly 3 to 3.5million new people signed up for coverage that began by the end ofMarch through brokers or carriers.

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That brings the total number of people in the individual marketto about 15 million, Kaiser said.

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Based on its analysis, the number of people with individualcoverage in effect at the end of March was about 29 percent higherthan at the end of December.

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Roughly one fourth of this growth was from new plans, includingnew insurers and CO-OP plans as well as insurers that hadpreviously operated in other markets or states, Kaiser said.

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“This first look at the direction of enrollment suggests that,even accounting for people leaving the market, the number of peoplepurchasing their own health coverage grew substantially and likelycontinued to grow toward the end of the enrollment period,” Kaiserreported.

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Kaiser analyzed carrier reports to state regulators. The numberof individual plan sales could be much higher, Kaiser said, becausefilings only represent the number of people whose coverage began byMarch 31. Additionally, Kaiser said, some larger carriers haven'tyet filed their 2014 data.

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“Assuming the off-exchange market experienced a surge similar tothe state marketplaces,” the net increase in individual marketenrollment could ultimately be twice as large, once the next roundof data becomes available, Kaiser said.

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However, in its report Kaiser acknowledged that “many questionsremain and we will need to wait for the next round of filings toget a more complete picture of overall enrollment, includingcapturing the late March enrollment surge.”

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The administration said 8.1 million people have signed up forcoverage through PPACA's exchanges as of April.

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