Managers of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) public exchanges have shown that millions of Americans are willing to buy health insurance from new public programs — even if the programs don’t work very well.
The PPACA public exchange open enrollment period for individual commercial “qualified health plan” (QHP) coverage started Oct. 1 and, technically, is set to end at 11:59 p.m. today.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) officially gave managers of the state-based Cover Oregon exchange — an exchange with enthusiastic local support but a dysfunctional website — permission to extend its open enrollment until April 30.
In most of the rest of the country, consumers can get until April 15 to complete their individual QHP applications by simply checking a box indicating that they had started to apply for coverage, or tried to start to apply, by end of today.
Despite going through months of enrollment system glitches and continuing to face lingering application processing system glitches, the 37 exchanges run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reported that 6 million people had selected QHP coverage by Thursday.
The state-based Covered California exchange increased enrollment about 20 percent, to 1.2 million, between March 17 and today, and that exchange seems to be on track to increase enrollment to at least 1.4 million in the next few days.
The California exchange enrollment site has set account creation records on five of the past six days.
Peter Lee, the exchange executive director, described the open enrollment period as a “historic opportunity” for state residents to get themselves and their loved ones covered.
“If you already have insurance, call those you know and urge them to get enrolled in these final hours,” Lee said.
Charles Gaba, a PPACA enrollment watcher, has predicted on his blog that the total number of people who have picked QHP coverage nationwide could reach 7 million as early as today.
Applications already in the pipeline could drive the total to 8 million by the unofficial new April 15 application deadline.