With more than 1 million plan selections from Dec. 3-9, Healthcare.gov just had its strongest week yet during the 2017 open enrollment season.
However, it’s still likely that this year’s enrollment total will lag behind last year’s—primarily because the window during which consumers can enroll in Affordable Care Act exchange plans has been cut in half.
Since open enrollment started on Nov. 1, there have been nearly 4.7 million plan selections, according to the latest data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. With just six days of open enrollment left to measure, there would need to be 4.5 million sign-ups in that time to equal last year’s total of 9.2 million sign-ups on Healthcare.gov.
No enrollment data is available yet from the states that run their own exchanges, but they would need to have a very strong showing to make up for the likely enrollment shortfall from the 39 states that use the federal exchange. Last year’s overall enrollment total was 12.2 million—a slight dip from the 12.7 million who enrolled the year before that.
As another new CMS report points out, though, not all who select plans during open enrollment maintain that coverage throughout the year. The agency said that in the first half of 2017, an average of 10.1 million individuals effectuated their coverage—or both selected a plan and paid the premium. That’s about 2.1 million below the 12.2 million total plan selections for 2017.
On average since 2014, more than a million enrollees per year dropped their coverage before the end of the plan year, the report added. Consumers may drop their plans for a variety of reasons, including becoming eligible for other types of insurance or deciding they’re unable to afford their plan.
Under the Obama administration, CMS said it planned to take steps to reduce the churn that occurs due to paperwork issues or other problems that prevent consumers from being able to pay their premiums.