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HealthCare.gov kept health insurance customers pouring in during the second week of the new individual health insurance selling season.

The web-based health insurance supermarket took in plan selection information for 146,000 people per day from Nov. 5 through Nov. 11.

HealthCare.gov’s daily average was down just 2.8% from the daily average for the period from Nov. 1 through Nov. 4.

About 1.5 million people are now on track to have coverage purchased through HealthCare.gov in 2018.

(Related: Trump’s HealthCare.gov Posts Strong First-Week Results)

Making year-over-year comparisons is tricky, because HealthCare.gov managers used a different activity reporting schedule last year, but HealthCare.gov daily volume appears to be 74% higher this year than it was last year.

HealthCare.gov Basics

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) set up HealthCare.gov to provide Affordable Care Act public exchange enrollment and account administration services for states that are unable or unwilling to provide the services themselves.

HealthCare.gov acts, in effect, like a giant, government-run, independent health insurance brokerage agency. Like an independent insurance brokerage, it works with a large network of other independent brokers, or web-based broker entities, and with tens of thousands of retail agents.

Regulators, insurers and public exchange programs set up an open enrollment period system, or limits on when people can buy coverage, to try to limit insurers’ claim risk. Consumers who try to buy coverage outside the open enrollment period must show they have what the government classifies as a good excuse to be shopping for coverage. Supporters say the system protects insurers against the risk that younger, healthier people will wait until they get sick to pay for coverage.

The open enrollment period for individual major medical coverage for 2018 began Nov. 1 and is set to end Dec. 15.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the arm of HHS that runs HealthCare.gov, reports plan selection numbers, rather than sales, because HealthCare.gov gives people who sign up for plans several weeks to “effectuate” coverage by making their first premium payments.

Trend Analysis

One question about the early numbers was whether they were due to strong demand, or, possibly, due to consumers and agents rushing to get applications in early, to avoid problems with system glitches and program changes.

Some wondered if pent-up demand would soon dissipate.

But the plan selection numbers were only a little lower from Nov. 5 through Nov. 11 than they were during the first four days of the open enrollment period.

The average daily number of HealthCare.gov users returning to the exchange to get new coverage fell 4%, to 111,000 per day, but the average number of users coming in from outside the exchange system increased 1%, to about 35,000 per day.

—Read Web Broker Reports Strong Individual Health Activity on ThinkAdvisor.

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