(Bloomberg) — About 8.3 million people have signed up for health coverage through the HealthCare.gov public health insurance exchange enrollment system this year, officials said Tuesday.
The new total includes many, but not all, of the people who have had HealthCare.gov coverage in 2015 and are on track to let their coverage renew automatically in 2016, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
At about the same point in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) open enrollment period last year, 6.4 million people had signed up for 2015 coverage in the HealthCare.gov states.
The new figures include results as of Dec. 19 for the 38 states that use the HealthCare.gov system. The figures do not include the people who are signing up for PPACA exchange coverage in California, New York and other states with their own state-run enrollment systems. The figures also exclude enrollment in the off-exchange market.
In HealthCare.gov states, the enrollment deadline for exchange coverage that starts Jan. 1 was Dec. 17. The CMS report is the most comprehensive accounting to come out since the enrollment period for Jan. 1-start date coverage expired.
Sign-ups this year are an important indication of how President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul is faring ahead of the 2016 presidential election. They’re also a bellwether for hospital and health insurance stocks: Investors are closely tracking the figures to see how many new paying customers those businesses can expect.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the parent of CMS, has said that about 9.9 million people will probably be enrolled in PPACA exchange plans by the end of 2016, compared with a projected 9.1 million at the close of 2015. That modest gain has disappointed some investors and contributed to a slump this year in hospital chains such as Tenet Healthcare Corp. (NYSE:THC) and Community Health Systems Inc. (NYSE:CYH).