Enrollment in ACA Exchanges Reaches 5M, Tavenner Says
On Monday, CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner announced that as of Sunday at least five million people had enrolled in health plans through the Affordable Care Act's federal and state-operated insurance exchanges, the New York Times reports (Pear, New York Times, 3/18).
According to Tavenner, nearly 800,000 people enrolled in coverage during the first two weeks of March, which indicates that enrollment rates are surging in the final days of the open enrollment period that ends on March 31 (Somashekhar, "Post Politics," Washington Post, 3/17).
Last week, HHS reported that about 940,000 U.S. residents had enrolled in health plans through the exchanges throughout the entire month of February, bring total enrollment in the health insurance marketplaces by the end of February to 4.2 million (California Healthline, 3/12).
In an HHS blog post, Tavenner wrote that "[t]he last several days have been the busiest since December" 2013 for the exchanges. She noted that a federal exchange hotline number received more than 198,000 calls on Thursday alone. In addition, HealthCare.gov -- the federal health insurance exchange website -- received more than four million visits last week, while another one million people visited the site during the weekend ("Post Politics," Washington Post, 3/17).
The two-week enrollment surge brings total exchange enrollment closer to the Congressional Budget Office's February projection that at least six million people will enroll in exchange health plans by the end of March. CBO previously estimated that about seven million people would sign up for coverage through the exchanges, but analysts reduced the figure primarily because of the troubled rollout of HealthCare.gov last fall (Corbett Dooren, Wall Street Journal, 3/17).
Meanwhile, Tavenner's announcement on Monday still did not include some key data that would provide a clearer picture about actual coverage rates and the success of the exchanges.
For example, it is not clear:
- How many of the new enrollees are between the ages of 18 to 34, a demographic seen as essential to the law's success;
- How many new enrollees were previously uninsured (Morgan, Reuters, 3/17); and
- How many of them had paid their first month's premiums ("Post Politics," Washington Post, 3/17).
Such data are key in determining how many individuals actually have gained coverage and benefit from the law (California Healthline, 3/14).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.