Affordable Care Act exchange enrollment dips nearly 13 percent

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About 11.1 million people are enrolled in Affordable Care Act exchange coverage, according to the latest government data, indicating that nearly 13 percent of those who signed up for coverage in the most recent open enrollment period have dropped out.

This year 12.7 million people enrolled in marketplace plans, but as of March 31, 1.6 million lost coverage because they failed to pay their premiums, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. The effectuated enrollment percentage is about the same as it was last year, the report notes, and within the 80-90 percent range issuers have consistently expected.

The 11.1 million enrolled in coverage also is about a million more enrollees than the public exchanges had at the same point last year. “This increased level of enrollment demonstrates the strength of the marketplace over time, as millions of Americans continue to have access to quality and affordable coverage when they need it,” Health Insurance Marketplace CEO Kevin Counihan said in the HHS announcement.

The ACA marketplaces commonly experience attrition, as some enrollees have trouble understanding the terms of their insurance or experience life changes that affect their eligibility for, or ability to afford, coverage. Given these realities, the administration set a modest goal this year of having 10 million enrolled in marketplace plans by the end of 2016--a figure HHS continues to project, notes the report.

Given customer churn and high claims costs, however, the public exchanges continue to be a challenging place to operate for some insurers. Indeed, UnitedHealth, Humana and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota have all pulled back their individual market offerings for 2017.

- read the announcement