HealthCare.gov's home page (Credit: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) (Credit: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services)

The Affordable Care Act public exchange programs may still have a shot at beating last year’s ACA open enrollment period plan signup figures.

The open enrollment period for 2020 individual major medical coverage began Nov. 1 in most of the country, and it’s set to end Sunday in most of the country.

As of last Saturday, the ACA exchange programs had announced about 6.1 million signups, according to figures compiled by ACASignups.net, an ACA program tracking blog.

In mid-November, signup activity appeared to be about 30% lower than it was at the same point in the open enrollment period for 2019 coverage.

(Related: 2020 Health Open Enrollment to Test Value of Marketing Spending)

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ HealthCare.gov have now helped 3.9 million people sign up for coverage, they seem to be close to matching its numbers for the 2019 open enrollment period, according to the ACASignups.net data.

The District of Columbia and 12 states run their own exchange programs. The locally run exchange programs have helped about 2.2 million people apply to get covered. The locally run exchanges seem to have narrowed their year-over-year signup drop to about 22%, from close to 50% in mid-November.

Congress created the ACA public exchange system to try to give people an easy way to shop for health coverage, and to distribute ACA premium tax credit subsidies. The system came to life in late 2013, with the first coverage sold taking effect Jan. 1, 2014.

The Big Enrollment Pictures

Charles Gaba, the editor of ACASignups.net, reported that he still had no enrollment data, as of Saturday, for five of the 13 locally run public exchange programs: the programs for the District of Columbia, Idaho, Maryland, Rhode Island and Vermont.

HHS cut its marketing spending sharply this year, but it has helped outside web brokers connect more directly with its computers.

The locally run exchanges have maintained or increased marketing spending and they have also been working to improve their systems.

California

Many states have added new reinsurance programs or other subsidy programs. California, for example, is using state money to add to the federal ACA premium tax credit subsidies for people earning 200% to 400% of the federal poverty level. California has also made premium subsidies available, for the first time, to people earning 400% to 600% of the federal poverty level.

Managers of California’s public exchange program, Covered California, said they have renewed in-force coverage for about 1.1 million people.

The number of people selecting new Covered California coverage stood at 133,092 Saturday. The number of new plan selectors was 16% higher than it was a year earlier, according to Covered California.

About 486,000 of the Covered California exchange plan users are using the new state subsidy program to pay at least part of the cost of the premiums, and about 23,000 of the state subsidy users have a household income from about 400% to 600% of the federal poverty level, according to Covered California.

Web Brokers

One of the web brokers that’s most open about its ACA open enrollment period activities numbers is HealthSherpa.

HealthSherpa helped about 500,000 people get covered during the open enrollment period for 2019.

This year, the company had already helped about 900,000 people sign up for coverage as of Wednesday, according to HealthSherpa.

Covered California and HealthSherpa together account for about one-third of public exchange signup activity, and other state-based exchange programs and web brokers are also sending the exchange system substantial amounts of business. One factor that could drive up enrollment activity as the open enrollment period comes to an end is would be a big application backlog at a state-based exchange or an outside support services company.

— Read Agents and Brokers Generated 44% of 2019 HealthCare.gov Signupson ThinkAdvisor.

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