Analysts at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services were assuming a year ago that the new public health insurance exchange system would take in just 4.3 million applications during the entire 2013-2014 open enrollment season.
CMS officials included that estimate in a routine paperwork review filing for exchange helper certification programs.
Around Oct. 1, when the first Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act open enrollment period began, officials at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the parent of CMS, declined to say how many people they expected the exchanges to enroll in commercial “qualified health plans” or government plans.
Many exchange watchers used a projection of 7 million, from the Congressional Budget Office, as a benchmark.
But CMS itself used the 4.3 million application figure back in July, when it was estimating how many “navigators,” or official, PPACA-required ombudsmen, and “non-navigator assistance personnel,” it would need to help consumers.
HHS reported in January that all state-based and HHS-run exchanges combined had received 4.3 million coverage applications for 5.1 million people from Oct. 1 — the start of the open enrollment season — through Dec. 28.
HHS stopped releasing application totals, saying it believed that enrollment system problems made the application numbers unreliable.