Andy Slavitt touts enrollment surges as Obama admin makes final sign-up push

With just a few days left to sign up for Affordable Care Act coverage, the federal government is emphasizing promising enrollment numbers as it makes its final push to reach the uninsured.

Signup traffic for rose 50 percent higher than a week ago, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt said, according to USA Today. CMS' latest enrollment figures for show 8.9 million signups.

Some large cities, such as Houston, saw considerable enrollment boosts this year, Slavitt noted, adding that in 14 states signups are 20 percent higher than they were at the same time last year.

One of those states is North Carolina, where about 95,000 more residents selected a plan during the first two months of this open enrollment period compared to the last one, Kaiser Health News reports. Only two states that use the federal exchange--Florida and Texas---saw more signups.

And that enrollment uptick is even more impressive considering all three insurers on the ACA exchange in North Carolina raised their average premiums at least 20 percent this year. Indeed, many insurers underestimated medical utilization in the past when setting rates, leading some to resort to double-digit rate hikes this year.

Yet federal officials have stressed that shopping around for coverage saves consumers money, a claim supported by recent research from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The Obama administration and other outreach groups have focused enrollment outreach efforts in this signup period on some of the hardest-to-reach demographics, including young people, minority populations and lower-wage workers. They are also targeting part-time workers, The Hill reports, by reaching out to drivers for the ride-hailing company Lyft. The company's CEO is also on board, calling the ACA "the right kind of mobile benefit for people seeking flexibility as well as affordable coverage."

Even amid the Obama administration's outreach efforts, however, there are signs that it will fall short of past enrollment projections. The Congressional Budget Office recently adjusted its estimate for 2016 enrollment in exchange plans to 13 million, down from its earlier estimate of 21 million.

To learn more:
- read the USA Today article
- here's the KHN report
- read The Hill's article

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The driving force behind rising exchange plan premiums
Open enrollment 2016: Best practices and lessons learned [Special Report]
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