About 10,000 South Carolinians purchased a private insurance policy through the federal health insurance marketplace last month, driving total enrollment since Oct. 1 to nearly 37,000, according to the S.C. Department of Insurance.

For more information

Shop for a private insurance plan on the federal government's health insurance marketplace online, HealthCare.gov, by phone, 1-800-318-2596, or by calling a local insurance agent. The S.C. Department of Insurance warns residents that they should not pay anyone for enrollment help, and should disclose their personal information, including social security numbers, only to someone they trust.

To read more of The Post and Courier's past coverage of the Affordable Care Act, go to postandcourier.com/obamacare.

This includes only new customers who have actually paid their first month's premium. Monthly reports released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services use a broader definition of enrollment, and include some customers who have picked a plan but not paid.

S.C. Insurance Department Director Ray Farmer said he expects the federal government to report this month that approximately 55,000 residents of the state enrolled in a policy between Oct. 1 and Feb. 28. That number is inaccurate because it reflects some individuals who have no intention of ever paying for their plan, he said.

"They could just be shopping," Farmer said. Customers who have not paid their premium are not technically covered under their insurance policy.

At the end of the February, the federal government reported that 4 million have people signed up for coverage under the Affordable Care Act, but it has not released any state-specific February enrollment data.

Farmer said his agency aggregates enrollment data directly from the four insurance companies selling policies to South Carolina customers on the federal insurance marketplace.

A spokeswoman for one of those companies, Consumer's Choice Health Plan, said Monday it has sold about half of all the marketplace plans purchased in South Carolina.

The average age of South Carolina residents purchasing a policy on the marketplace is about 45, Farmer said. More than 88 percent of the marketplace customers qualified for a subsidy to help pay for a policy.

The U.S. Census estimates that more than 700,000 residents in this state have no health insurance, but Farmer said he does not know how that number has changed since Oct. 1.

A new Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index poll released Monday said 15.6 percent of adults across the country are not insured, down from 18 percent late last year. A report about the poll implies that the drop could be a result of new coverage options available under the Affordable Care Act.

Open enrollment on HealthCare.gov ends March 31.

Reach Lauren Sausser at 937-5598.