Now that open enrollment is over, it’s time to see how we did. The answer is PRETTY GOOD! President Obama announced yesterday that 11.4 million people signed up for coverage or renewed their existing plans during the ACA open enrollment period that ended Sunday. That tops the administration’s goal of 9.1 million paying customers and certainly tops the expectations of a lot of critics.
It is true that some of these customers have yet to pay or even select a health plan, so the final number is likely to be somewhat lower than the reported 11.4 million enrollments, but there are still people enrolling during the one-week special enrollment period for individuals who experienced technical difficulties or long wait times over the weekend. Some state-run exchanges have also extended the deadline due to bad weather or technical glitches of their own.
Analysts are now busy trying to determine the reason for the successful enrollment numbers. President Obama says it’s because “of how hungry people were … for affordable, accessible health insurance” while others say people are finally realizing they may pay penalties if they don’t sign up for health coverage. The fact that Healthcare.gov didn’t have the same sort of technical problems that plagued the site last year is certainly another reason. And we can’t overlook the hard work of health insurance agents and brokers who helped millions of people enroll, either one at a time through the Healthcare.gov site or more efficiently through a private exchange website. So give yourselves a round of applause – you deserve it!
The good news is that the opportunity for individual sales is far from over. HHS is contemplating another special enrollment period right around the tax filing deadline, and the special enrollment opportunities for people with job-based coverage are being expanded this year. Stay tuned – we’ll have a lot of ideas to share in the coming weeks.
To read more of the President’s comments about this year’s open enrollment period, take a look at the New York Times’ article “Obama Cites Health Plan Tally of 11.4 Million”.