The HealthCare.gov public exchange enrollment system could start the year with up to 6.4 million users enrolled in 2017 health coverage.
The signup total is about 6 percent higher than the Jan. 1, 2016, signup total HealthCare.gov managers were reporting a year ago.
HealthCare.gov has received plan selection information for coverage with a Jan. 1 start date for 945,620 people who are new to HealthCare.gov, and for 2.3 million people who are actively renewing coverage they bought through HealthCare.gov, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
ACAsignups.net, an ACA exchange plan tracking blog, is estimating that HealthCare.gov and the state-based exchanges have received Jan. 1 start coverage plan selection information for a total of about 9 million people.
CMS, an arm of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, set up HealthCare.gov to provide Affordable Care Act exchange enrollment and account administration services in states that are unwilling or unable to handle ACA enrollment themselves.
CMS reported signup activity numbers for 2016 coverage with a Jan. 1, 2016, in a slightly different format.
The number of 2017 plan choosers who are new to the system appears to be down about 2 percent, but the number of HealthCare.gov users who are actively renewing their coverage appears to be up about 20 percent.
CMS has not yet included information about current HealthCare.gov plan users who are simply keeping their old coverage in place in its activity data. Many large HealthCare.gov issuers have reduced their level of participation in the program this year. It’s not yet clear how passive re-enrollments will affect the total number of people who start 2017 with HealthCare.gov coverage.
A surge in new signups
Managers of both HealthCare.gov and state-based Affordable Care Act exchanges have said that signup activity has been strong, in spite of insurer exchange participation cuts, exchange plan issuer producer compensation cuts, and the uncertainty about the ACA created by the Nov. 8 general election results.
The individual major medical period for 2017 started Nov. 1, and is set to run until Jan. 31.
The original application deadline for coverage set to take effect Jan. 1, 2017, was Dec. 15. CMS pushed the signup deadline for Jan. 1 coverage back to Dec. 19. Officials said they eased the deadline because of concerns about high website and call center traffic.
CMS avoids calling the people who have signed up for coverage “enrollees,” because exchange users are not health plan enrollees until they effectuate their coverage by making premium payments. Some of the new plan choosers have paid their premiums for January but some have not.
In the past, about 85 percent of the ACA exchange plan choosers have effectuated their coverage.
Between Nov. 1 and Dec. 11, only about half of the HealthCare.gov plan choosers were new to the HealthCare.gov system.
HealthCare.gov saw a spike in business from new plan choosers from Dec. 11 through Dec. 19. During that deadline week, plan choosers who were new to HealthCare.gov accounted for about 69 percent of plan selection activity.
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