Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, announced Wednesday, Dec. 11, that nearly 365,000 individuals had selected plans from the state and federal health insurance exchanges by the end of November.
More than a quarter-million enrollees completed the process in November, during which enrollment in the federal marketplace was more than four times greater than Octobers reported federal enrollment number, according to an HHS report.
During both months, the website (www.healthcare.gov) for enrolling in a federal exchange was plagued by technical glitches, although it worked better in November than in October. The site reportedly has been working at closer to optimal capacity in December.
Since the Oct. 1 rollout of the exchanges, an additional 1.9 million people have applied and received an eligibility determination, but have not selected a plan. Even assuming all those people select a plan, the approximately 2.3 million newly insured would fall well short of projections that 7 million people would sign up for insurance through the exchanges.
A significant shortfall especially of younger and healthier enrollees by the March 31 end of open enrollment could affect insurance premiums in the exchanges in future years, conceivably making the system hard to sustain, according to published analyses.
Insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act starts Jan. 1 for people who enroll by Dec. 23. Obama administration officials expect a rise in new enrollees as that date approaches.
The open enrollment period for 2014 extends through March 31, at which point most Americans must have insurance or be penalized on their tax returns. Another surge of enrollees is expected leading up to that deadline.
In addition to the 365,000 who have enrolled in private insurance plans, an additional 803,077 were determined or assessed eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program through the exchanges in October and November.
Evidence of the technical improvements to HealthCare.gov can be seen in the enrollment numbers, Sebelius said in a news release. More and more Americans are finding that quality, affordable coverage is within reach and that theyll no longer need to worry about barriers they may have faced in the past like being denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition.
There have been 39.1 million visitors to the state and federal exchanges since Oct. 1, and an estimated 5.2 million calls to the state and federal call centers.
The HHS report organizes findings by state and federal marketplaces. In some cases only partial datasets were available for state marketplaces. The report features cumulative data for the two-month period because some people apply, shop and select a plan across monthly reporting periods. If a person submitted an application in October and selected a plan in November, for example, this person is counted only once in the cumulative data.
Report (PDF): http://aspe.hhs.gov/health/reports/2013/MarketPlaceEnrollment/Dec2013/ib_2013dec_enrollment.pdf