Fed Exchange Sign-Ups Reach 543K in First Week of Open Enrollment
About 543,000 U.S. residents signed up for health coverage through the federal exchange during the first week of the Affordable Care Act's third open enrollment period, according to CMS data released Thursday, The Hill reports (Sullivan, The Hill, 11/12).
The Obama administration has estimated that about 10 million U.S. residents will be enrolled in health coverage purchased through the ACA's exchanges by the end of 2016. About 9.9 million U.S. residents are currently enrolled in exchange plans, but that number likely will drop to 9.1 million by the end of 2015 (California Healthline, 10/16).
The administration has launched a new advertising campaign to encourage U.S. residents who remain uninsured -- particularly those with low incomes -- to sign up for health coverage. Further, HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said the administration will highlight the rising penalties that uninsured individuals face under the ACA's individual mandate.
In addition, administration officials are focusing sign-up efforts on five areas with high uninsured rates:
- Miami; and
- Northern New Jersey (California Healthline, 11/10).
According to the data, 66% of those who enrolled in health plans through the federal exchange during the past week re-enrolled in exchange coverage, while about 34% signed up for exchange coverage for the first time (Herman, Modern Healthcare, 11/12).
The 543,000 enrollment figure for the past week surpasses the 462,000 U.S. residents who enrolled in federal exchange plans during the first week of last year's open enrollment period (The Hill, 11/12). However, HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell cautioned against making direct comparisons because last year's open enrollment period began later in November.
Charles Gaba -- a data expert who directs ACAsignups.net, which tracks enrollment in exchange plans -- said it is "hard to say what [the enrollment data] means yet." He noted that more informative enrollment data likely will be available following the Dec. 15 deadline for individuals to enroll in coverage that takes effect on Jan. 1.
Further, Gaba predicted that about 714,000 U.S. residents will have signed up for exchange coverage so far this open enrollment period when data from state-run exchanges are included (O'Donnell, USA Today, 11/12).
Trends Among Hispanic Customers
Meanwhile, the number of users visiting the Spanish-language version of HealthCare.gov is about one-third lower than it was last year, according to the Post. In addition, the number of users contacting a Spanish-speaking representative dropped by about 50%, from about 102,000 of such individuals last year to 52,000 this year (Washington Post, 11/12). About 19% of U.S. residents without health insurance are Hispanic, according to Modern Healthcare (Modern Healthcare, 11/12).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.