HHS’ 2015 ACA Enrollment Estimate Lower Than CBO’s Projection
On Monday, HHS announced that between nine million and 9.9 million individuals would enroll in plans through the Affordable Care Act's insurance exchanges during the second open enrollment period, lower than the Congressional Budget Office's projection of about 13 million enrollees, the New York Times reports.
The second open enrollment period begins on Nov. 15 and ends on Feb. 15, 2015. HHS said the total would include roughly 5.9 million people who had purchased coverage through the marketplaces last year and are re-enrolling. However, "most of the new marketplace enrollment for 2015 is likely to come from the ranks of the uninsured," according to HHS (Pear, New York Times, 11/10).
Specifically, HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said she projects around 9.1 million people will be enrolled in plans sold through the ACA's exchanges by the end of 2015 (Morgan, Reuters, 11/10).
Why the HHS Projection Is Lower Than CBO's
According to the Times, the administration's enrollment estimate could be part of federal officials' attempts to curb expectations about enrollment. Further, officials could recognize it might be difficult to enroll many individuals who remain uninsured while also working to re-enroll those who purchased ACA coverage last year (New York Times, 11/10).
Meanwhile, some observers speculated that the administration set a lower estimate so that actual enrollment numbers could easily exceed the target (Goldstein, "Wonkblog," Washington Post, 11/10). Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said, "Under the president's health care law, Americans have experienced broken exchanges, canceled coverage, higher premiums and unaffordable deductibles. Despite the administration's habit of moving the goal posts, the fact is [the ACA] is simply not delivering the results Americans were originally promised by the president" (Howell, Washington Times, 11/10).
Still, others said the significance of the projections might not be clear until the end of the open enrollment period in February. Kaiser Family Foundation Senior Vice President Larry Levitt said, "There is still a lot of mystery" ("Wonkblog," Washington Post, 11/10). Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation Vice President Gary Claxton added, "I'm not sure any particular set of numbers is right or not right" (Washington Times, 11/10).
However, officials said they expect exchange enrollment to grow at a slower rate than CBO's projection, noting that individuals could also become insured by qualifying for Medicaid or purchasing coverage through their employers (New York Times, 11/10). Specifically, officials noted that about 17 million of the 32 million U.S. residents currently uninsured likely will qualify for Medicaid. The administration said the projections are based on observations made during the first open enrollment period and of other government health programs' performance (Radnofsky, Wall Street Journal, 11/10).
Revised Number of Current Enrollees
Meanwhile, the administration also announced Monday that fewer people currently have coverage through the ACA's exchanges than previously reported. According to officials, 7.1 million individuals have enrolled in and paid for their coverage, down from the 7.3 million that were reported having done so through mid-August.
According to officials, the enrollment number changed because some individuals failed to pay their premiums and others were determined ineligible for coverage because of unresolved citizenship or immigration status disputes (New York Times, 11/10). Specifically, officials said that 112,000 individuals' coverage was terminated because the federal government could not confirm whether they were legally present in the U.S.
In addition, the administration noted that it will stop providing federal subsidies for purchasing health coverage for December for 120,000 households that have not yet responded to requests for updated income information (Wall Street Journal, 11/10).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.