The number of people who signed up for Affordable Care Act (ACA) coverage on HealthCare.gov in the second week of open enrollment declined compared to the same time period in 2018.
Enrollment figures released Wednesday from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) showed that 754,967 people signed up for the second week of open enrollment, a 6% decline compared to the 804,556 that signed up in 2018.
From Nov. 1 to Nov. 9, HealthCare.gov saw 932,049 sign up for insurance for the 2020 coverage year. But while sign-ups overall are slightly down, there are signs of optimism in the latest data delivered by CMS.
For one thing, 196,005 new consumers signed up for plans in the second week compared to 185,631 in the second week of 2018’s open enrollment.
Overall, there have been 244,928 new consumers buying plans on HealthCare.gov since the start of open enrollment on Nov. 1. Residents in 38 states use HealthCare.gov to sign up for ACA insurance on the individual market.
The exchanges appear to be recovering from a series of technical snafus that held up sign-ups at the start of open enrollment, which ends on Dec. 15.
An analysis from Obamacare advocacy group Get America Covered found that roughly 100,000 people couldn’t sign up because of technical problems.
The technical issues could be why sign-ups for the second week were so high, as “people who could not enroll last Friday returned to HealthCare.gov to try again,” wrote Get America Covered President Josh Peck in a blog post on Medium.
Peck was also concerned that the number of renewals is down by 10% compared to the same period in 2018. In week two, there were 558,962 people that renewed their coverage, compared with 618,925 people last year.
“In either case, it’s too soon to draw conclusions,” he wrote.
There is also one major issue that is looming: a lawsuit that seeks to invalidate the entire ACA.
A panel of three appellate judges is expected to issue a ruling any day now on a lower court’s decision to invalidate the law. A collection of 17 red states led by Texas and the Department of Justice argues that the repeal of the ACA’s individual mandate in 2017 under tax reform means that the rest of the law is invalidated. A group of 18 blue states is fighting the lawsuit.
A federal judge in Texas agreed with the red states, and that ruling is now under appeal. Another appeal to the Supreme Court is likely no matter what the three-judge panel decides.