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Individual Health Enrollment Period Comes to Its Old End

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What You Need to Know

  • Everything has changed, throwing off year-over-year comparisons.
  • HealthCare.gov had recorded 3.9 million plan selections as of Dec. 4.
  • In 2020, HealthCare.gov said it had recorded 3.8 million plan selections as of Dec. 5.

The Affordable Care Act exchange plan open enrollment period for 2022 coverage reached its old deadline today.

But the new deadline is now Jan. 15, 2022, or later in most states, and it’s not clear how well signups are going.

States like Colorado have been trying to push consumers to buy coverage now by pointing out that they need to sign up by Dec. 15 to have coverage in place by New Year’s Day.

But it’s not clear whether the longer signup period will end up increasing enrollment, by giving people more time to get covered, or hurt enrollment, by reducing prospects’ sense of urgency.

Early Numbers

HealthCare.gov ended the open enrollment period for 2021 coverage with about 8.2 million signups, and enrollment period extensions created by the administration of President Joe Biden increased total 2021 ACA exchange plan enrollment to 12 million as of August.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the agency that oversees the ACA exchange system, reported last week that it had recorded plan selections for 3.9 million people through the federal government’s HealthCare.gov website as of Dec. 4, and 625,373 signups from state-based exchange programs.

ACAsignups.net, an ACA tracking blog, reports that it believes ACA exchange programs had signed a total of 8.6 million people up for coverage by Dec. 9.

A year ago, CMS was reported it had recorded 3.8 million HealthCare.gov signups as of Dec. 5.

More on this topic

HealthSherpa, a web broker, reports that its systems are processing about one-third of signups, either for consumers who are enrolling themselves or for agents and brokers who are helping consumers with the process.

The Health Insurance Calendar

The ACA open enrollment period for 2022 began Nov. 1 in most of the country.

The ACA eliminated most defenses health insurers could once use to defend themselves against the possibility that only people who were already sick would bother to pay for health insurance.

State insurance regulators, health insurers and ACA exchange programs developed the open enrollment period system, or limits on when people can get coverage without jumping through hoops, to try to push healthy people to pay the premiums when they feel great.

The goal is to raise the possibility that healthy people could face huge medical bills, with no insurance, if they go bare and suffer a heart attack, stroke or broken leg outside the open enrollment period.

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Pictured: A screenshot from Connect for Health Colorado’s ACA exchange plan enrollment website. (Image: Connect for Health Colorado)