The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) public health insurance exchange system is nearing its first major 2015 annual enrollment period deadline: the Dec. 15 application deadline for coverage that starts Jan. 1, 2015.
The public exchange system generally seems to be much more functional this year than it was at this time a year ago.
In early December 2013, LifeHealthPro.com ran one article with the headline “Have you tried signing up for Obamacare — just for kicks?” and another with the headline “How will we know if HealthCare.gov is fixed?” Some of the other PPACA exchange article headlines were more negative than those.
PPACA watchers were complaining about a lack of exchange activity data coming from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and HHS reported Dec. 29 that it had received qualified health plan (QHP) selection information for only 1.1 million people.
What Your Peers Are Reading
This year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has already published three batches of weekly activity reports for the exchange programs it runs.
Charles Gaba, the editor of ACASignups.net, is estimating that the exchanges may have received QHP signup information from a total of 2.6 million people, with about 2 million coming in through the HHS HealthCare.gov enrollment systems and about 660,000 coming in through the enrollment systems of state-based exchanges. He has information about 1.7 million confirmed QHP selectors.
Managers of most state-based exchange programs have also published at least one activity report, although some of the most recent available activity reports are old.
For a look at the latest exchange numbers, and what they mean, read on.
1. The public exchanges seem to be averaging about 700,000 QHP plan selections per week
HHS received QHP selection information for 617,548 people for the week ending Dec. 9. That’s higher than the three-week average of about 400,000 QHP selections per week, possibly because the second week in the enrollment period included the Thanksgiving holiday.
During the first two weeks of the enrollment period, about half of the HealthCare.gov QHP choosers were renewing existing coverage, and half were buying new coverage.
That trend continued this week: About half of the QHP choosers were new customers, and half were replacing in-force coverage.
Application submission volume and call center volume were a little higher than the three-week average.
The number of “window shoppers” — people who looked at the site without logging in — was close to the three-week average.
For 2014 coverage, the open enrollment period lasted for about 26 weeks in most of the country. Activity doubled or tripled near the application deadline for coverage that started Jan. 1, 2014, and around the end of the 2014 enrollment period, which petered out, in most states, over a period extending from March 31 through mid-April.