Nearly 11M paid premiums for ACA exchanges at beginning of 2020, a slight increase

Affordable Care Act
Effectuated enrollment in the Affordable Care Act’s insurance exchanges, where consumers pay the first month of premiums, was 10.7 million, a slight hike from 2019. (Getty/zimmytws)

Nearly 11 million consumers paid their first month’s premium on the Affordable Care Act’s insurance exchanges in early 2020, a slight increase from the same period in 2019.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) reported Thursday that 10.7 million ACA customers paid their premiums as of March 15, a slight increase from the 10.6 million who paid through February 2019. The data include both state and federally run insurance exchanges.

“The report confirmed that for the third year in a row, enrollment has remained steady and the number of consumers who paid for coverage in February 2020 increased compared to February 2019,” the agency said in a release.

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CMS also reported that the average total monthly premium for enrollees in February of this year was $576.16, a 3% decline compared with February 2019’s average premiums of $594.17.

A wide majority of the exchange population (86%) got an advance premium tax credit to lower the cost of health insurance, a decline of about 1 percentage point from the same period in 2019.

Last year, the monthly effectuated enrollment peaked in January with 10.5 million customers and fell to 0.1 million by December 2019. 

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“The average monthly amount of [advance premium tax credit] per enrollee receiving APTC fell by approximately four percent from February 2019, to $491.53,” the agency added.

The ACA exchange market has started to become more attractive to insurers who bailed a few years ago due to mounting financial losses. UnitedHealthcare announced it will expand its ACA presence by entering Maryland's exchange.

It remains unclear how exactly the COVID-19 pandemic will affect the ACA exchanges and the individual market as a whole as the pandemic has caused massive job losses.

At the onset of the pandemic in March, the 12 state-run exchanges plus the District of Columbia reopened enrollment. This prompted nearly 263,000 people to sign up for coverage.

But CMS did not reopen enrollment for HealthCare.gov, which is used by residents in more than 40 states to buy ACA exchange plans. There remains a special enrollment period for people who have recently lost their job.

A separate analysis from consulting firm Avalere estimates enrollment on the exchanges could increase by more than 1 million due to job losses.

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