As of Monday’s deadline for customers who want coverage in place by January 1st, 6.4 million people had chosen plans in the 39 states where federal authorities operate the exchanges.
The number includes more than 2 million new customers and an increase of 400,000 from the same period a year ago.
In addition last Thursday was a record-breaking day for HealthCare.gov enrollment since it's inception.
Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell announced last week during a conference call with reporters...
“We’re going to finish this open enrollment by trying to enroll more people than ever. Today’s enrollment numbers confirm that some of the doomsday predictions about the marketplace are not bearing out.”
The record breaking sign ups come despite the fact that the Obama administration and state exchange officials faced significant challenges heading into the current open enrollment period which included increases in unsubsidized premiums.
Those hikes came from the insurers who raised prices to compensate for higher-than-expected expenses during the first two years of the exchanges, as too few healthy customers signed up to offset the cost of medical care for sicker enrollees. In addition, several major health insurance companies withdrew from the exchanges or at least reduced their participation to increase their profits, leading to fewer choices for consumers in many states.
Despite concerns this would depress enrollment the results were in line with Department of Health and Human Services projections
Many hypothesize that the increase in the sign ups are due to the threat that President-elect Donald Trump and congressional Republicans have promised to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. A move that would immediately leave over 30 million people without health care coverage according to the Urban Institute
Trump and Republican leaders in Congress also want to do away with subsidize private health insurance on the exchanges and to finance the Medicaid expansion for poor residents that 31 states and the District of Columbia adopted under Obamacare.
The GOP’s tentative plan is to enact this repeal and delay debating legislation on an alternative to the Affordable Care Act for up to four years, leaving insurers and customers in limbo about what may come next.
Analysis by the Urban Institute cautioned that this approach would not only result in coverage losses for those who would be without financial assistance and the guarantee of insurance regardless of pre-existing conditions, but also destabilize the insurance market for everyone who isn’t covered by job-based plans or government programs such as Medicare.
In what may be the strangest twist is that it will be the incoming Trump administration that will finish the current open enrollment period, which ends 11 days after the new president is inaugurated.
A final tally for this round of sign-ups will be revealed sometime in January.
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