So Far, 7.1 Million Have Used Exchanges to Get Health Coverage for 2015

A report from HHS notes that through December 15, 2014, 52% of enrollees were new consumers, which could indicate that the Obama Administration is on track to meeting its goal of signing up 9 million Americans for health coverage on the exchanges in 2015.

HHS released a pair of reports yesterday that indicate about 7.1 million Americans had obtained health coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) through December 26, 2014, with most them using HealthCare.gov.

Between November 15 and the day after Christmas, 6.5 million people selected a plan or were automatically re-enrolled. Data from the sixth week of open enrollment includes the Christmas holiday, but the HHS numbers show consumers did not stop using the federal website. Some 96,446 consumers selected a plan and 197,402 made applications, according to the HHS report.

A separate memo prepared by HHS, which includes updates from the 14 states that run their own exchanges, states that another 633,000 consumers have enrolled for 2015 through these portals, for a total of 7.1 million. However, the memo notes that most of the data from the states are only through December 13, 2014, and that many more consumers have obtained coverage.

In the fall, the Obama Administration set a goal of signing up 9 million consumers for healthcare through the state exchanges and HealthCare.gov. That goal seems plausible, if consumers continue to shop until open enrollment ends February 15, 2015. Both the federal website and the call center appear to be functioning much better than during the disastrous rollout a year ago. Average wait times for the call center last week were just 2 seconds, according to yesterday’s HHS report.

A critical statistic in the more detailed HHS memo showed that of the 3.42 million consumers who had enrolled through December 15, 2014, 48% were consumers re-enrolling in coverage while 52% were new consumers. Obviously, getting the total enrollment to 9 million will require the engagement of some enrollees who did not sign up in 2014. The prospect of higher penalties in 2015 for not obtaining health coverage may prompt some newcomers to seek coverage; others may be drawn by the better functioning website or call centers, or knowledge of others who successfully obtained care through the ACA.

“As we close out 2014, nearly 6.5 million consumers have access to quality, affordable health coverage for 2015 through the federal Health Insurance Marketplace,” HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell said in a prepared statement.

“Even with the holiday, consumers still found the time to shop, start applications and learn about their options,” she said. “With the January 15 deadline for February 1 coverage right around the corner, we encourage consumers to continue to visit HealthCare.gov or reach out to the call center to learn about their options and what financial assistance may be available.”

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