Despite cuts to its promotional budget and a shorter time period for signing up, 2018 open enrollment in the Affordable Care Act marketplace is surging ahead in week four, with more than 500,000 consumers selecting plans between Nov. 19 and Nov. 25.
According to CMS data, 504,181 consumers picked plans using Healthcare.gov and that number includes 152,243 new consumers.
So far this enrollment period, 2.78 million consumers have signed up for coverage, with roughly 718,000 of them being new. That surpasses numbers from last year's open enrollment period, when 2.13 million signed up by the end of the fourth week in 2016.
CMS did not comment on the high enrollment numbers in their weekly snapshot.
Last year, open enrollment ended on Jan. 31 with about 12.7 million plan selections through the health insurance Marketplaces. Of those, more than 9.6 million came through HealthCare.gov platform and 3.1 million selected a plan through state-based marketplaces.
This year, consumers must make their decisions within a truncated time table, as open enrollment extends only through Dec. 15, rather than the end of January. Additionally, the Trump administration slashed the promotional budget for the ACA by 90 percent and cut funding for navigator organizations that help people select plans and enroll.
The fate of the Affordable Care Act has been in limbo for months now, with several attempts by the Republicans to repeal and replace President Barack Obama's signature legislation. The surge in enrollment could be fueled by that uncertainty, as people rush to gain coverage not knowing if they'll be able to in coming years. Insurers have abandoned marketplace exchanges thanks to the same uncertainty, leaving some regions with little choice in insurers.