HealthCare.gov pushed 2017 exchange plan selection activity close to 2016 levels, in spite of a wave of issuer withdrawals and big premium increases.
Managers of the Affordable Care Act exchange plan enrollment system say it ended the individual open enrollment period for 2017 with plan selection information for 9.2 million people.
That was down 4.2 percent from the plan selector count recorded a year earlier, at the end of the open enrollment period for 2016.
About 3 million of the 2017 users are new to the system. About 6.2 million are people who used HealthCare.gov plans in 2016 and are continuing to use HealthCare.gov plans this year.
Florida and Texas continued to be the biggest sources of HealthCare.gov activity. Florida accounted for 1.8 million of the system’s 2017 users, and Texas accounted for 1.2 million of the users.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services set up HealthCare.gov to provide ACA enrollment and account administration services for states that were unable or unwilling to handle the job themselves. HHS reports on plan selection activity, rather than sales activity, because it classifies a transaction as a true sale only after a consumer makes at least one premium payment.
In the past, about 85 percent of the people who have selected exchange plan coverage have put the coverage into effect.
The individual major medical open enrollment period for 2017 started Nov. 1 and ended Tuesday in most of the country. Managers of the state-based exchanges in California, Colorado and Minnesota gave consumers who had started the enrollment process by Tuesday a few more days to complete the plan selection process.
About 3 million of the 2017 HealthCare.gov users are new to the system. (Photo: iStock)
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the arm of HHS that runs HealthCare.gov, stuck to a firm Tuesday enrollment cut-off this year.
The open enrollment period for 2017 started under President Barack Obama and ended under President Donald Trump. Trump has talked about wanting to repeal and replace the ACA, but Trump has not talked about what he wants to do with the public exchange system. Some Republicans have developed ACA repair or replacement proposals that could keep at least part of the public exchange system intact.
Trump took the oath of office Jan. 20.
The following week, CMS canceled at least some of the HealthCare.gov promotional ads it was preparing to run to promote the end of the open enrollment period, according to Politico.
CMS has been emailing enrollment snapshot reports every other week during the open enrollment period, and it stuck to that schedule for the new snapshot report. The snapshot reports usually include a statement from an HHS or CMS official. The new report does not refer to any HHS or CMS official by name.
Anne Filipic, president of Washington-based Enroll America, a nonprofit HealthCare.gov enrollment support group, said in a statement that she thinks 2017 enrollment would be higher if there were more certainty about the state of the ACA.
“The fact that, in the face of opposition and controversy, millions of Americans continued to enroll is an incredible testament to the importance of the Affordable Care Act coverage to families all across the country,” Filipic said.
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