Reports break down final ACA open enrollment stats

Two new reports from the federal government provide more details about who signed up for Affordable Care Act plans during the most recent open enrollment period, how they chose coverage and what they paid.

An effectuated enrollment snapshot from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published Friday shows 8.8 million Americans had enrolled in ACA plans and paid their premiums as of Dec. 31. That's up from the 6.3 million who had active coverage at the same time one year before, but falls short of the 9.1 million that Health and Human Services Department (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell had hoped to have at the end of the year.

Among the 8.8 million who had active coverage at the end of the year, 84 percent were receiving tax credits to help them pay their premiums, CMS says. In terms of plan selections, less than half a percent were enrolled in catastrophic plans, 20 percent chose bronze plans, 68 percent had silver plans, 7 percent enrolled in gold plans and 4 percent selected platinum plans.

In an HHS report also released Friday, data show that 4.9 million new customers signed up for coverage on the ACA marketplaces during the law's third open enrollment period, for a total of 12.7 million sign-ups.

Among new enrollees in states that use, 33 percent were ages 18-34--a slight increase from the same time last year, when the share was 31 percent. Young customers are a key demographic, as insurers have struggled to make a profit in the individual marketplaces due to high numbers of older and sicker enrollees.

Those who switched plans during open enrollment were more likely to switch insurers than change metal levels. Switching plans saved enrollees an average of $40 per month, and they saved an average of $45 per month if they switched insurers as well as plans.

Among those in states who qualified for advance premium tax credits (APTC), the average ACA plan premium was $106, the HHS report adds. The average APTC was valued at $290 per month and covered 73 percent of a qualified enrollee's gross premium.

"This year's customers are more engaged and better informed. New customers came in earlier because they wanted a full year's coverage, and 70 percent of returning customers actively selected a plan," Burwell added in an announcement from HHS.

To learn more:
- read the CMS fact sheet
- here's the HHS report
- read the HHS announcement