Open enrollment on ACA exchanges remains stable

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After a slow start to open enrollment, the number of individuals signing up for plans on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchanges this year ultimately came close to reaching last year's enrollment figures, officials announced Friday

In all, preliminary figures indicate more than 8.3 million people enrolled for coverage on the ACA exchanges through Dec. 17 for the 2020 open enrollment period. That's down about 2.4% from the approximately 8.5 million individuals who enrolled for 2019 coverage during last year's open enrollment period, said officials at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). That includes consumers granted an extension because they were not able to complete the enrollment process on Dec. 15.

“We are reporting that for the third year in a row enrollment in the Federal Exchange remained stable,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma in a statement. “Far from undermining the Affordable Care Act—as some hysterical and inaccurate claims would have it—the Trump administration is making the very best of what remains a failed experiment."

Sign-ups were sluggish at the beginning of open enrollment, a drop some experts attributed to technical glitches experienced by users early on in enrollment as well as general unease around the stability of the ACA.

The sign-ups are only for and do not include sign-ups from state-based exchanges. 

CMS officials said there are a multitude of reasons for enrollment figures to fluctuate. For instance, Maine expanded its Medicaid program and increased in size by approximately 12,000 people. Nevada transitioned to a state-based exchange, meaning the figures weren't included in the national figures.

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Here's a look at some of the breakdowns from the preliminary numbers: 

  • There were 4.4 million sign-ups for coverage in the final week of enrollment that ran from Dec. 8-17. In all, there were 8.3 million individuals who signed up for coverage during open enrollment, which began Nov. 1.
  • Nearly 1 million new customers signed up for coverage in the final week, and more than 2 million new customers signed up during open enrollment. (In all, 6.2 million returning customers signed up for coverage during open enrollment.) 
  • Florida had the most resident enroll for plans with about 1.9 million signing up for coverage during open enrollment. Alaska, Hawaii and West Virginia had the fewest enrollees with 21,000 or fewer sign-ups each.