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More than 758,000 people select healthcare plans in the third week of open enrollment

That brings the total number of enrollees to 2.4 million, a 41% jump over last year but also with more days to sign up over 2019.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

During the third week of the 2020 open enrollment period, from Nov. 15-21, 758,421 people selected plans using the HealthCare.gov platform.

That brings the total number of enrollees to 2,380,527 after the first three weeks of open enrollment. That's at least a 41% jump from last year, which saw 1,669,401 consumers sign up for plans after the first three weeks. It should be noted, though, that in 2020 there were more days in this three-week period than last year, since the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services measures enrollment Sunday through Saturday. Nov. 1 was on a Sunday this year and on a Friday in 2019, so the first week of 2019 had only three days, while the first week this year measured a full seven.

The numbers are a slight dip from the second week of open enrollment, during which 754,967 signed up for coverage. 

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The HealthCare.gov platform is used by the federally facilitated exchange and some state-based exchanges. Notably, New Jersey and Pennsylvania transitioned to their own platforms for 2021, and due to this they're absent from HealthCare.gov for 2021 coverage. Those two states accounted for 578,251 plan selections last year, 7% of all plan selections. These enrollees' selections will not appear in CMS' figures until it announces the state-based marketplace plan selections.

WHAT'S THE IMPACT

This is the third snapshot of open enrollment figures by CMS during this sign-up period.

Of those selecting plans, 177,644 were new consumers, while 580,777 were renewing coverage. This brings the total number of new consumers to 521,272 since the beginning of open enrollment, while the tally for those renewing coverage now stands at 1,859,255. More than 3,722,817 consumers have been on the applications submitted to date.

A consumer is considered to be a new consumer if they did not have 2020 exchange coverage through Dec. 31 of this year and had a 2021 plan selection. They're considered a renewing consumer if they have 2020 exchange coverage through Dec. 31 and actively select either the same plan or a new plan for 2021.

The numbers represent those who have submitted an application and selected a plan, net of any cancellations from a consumer, or cancellations from an insurer. The weekly metric represents the net change in the number of uncanceled plan sections over a given period.

Plan selections will not include those consumers who are automatically re-enrolled into a plan. To have their coverage effectuated, consumers generally need to pay their first month's health plan premium. CMS did not report the number of effectuated enrollments.

In all, there were 2,842,776 HealthCare.gov users recorded during the second week, and 95,535 of the Spanish-speaking equivalent, CuidadoDeSalud.gov, bringing the two-week totals to 8,195,718 and 273,776, respectively.

THE LARGER TREND

Congressional Republicans have for years attempted to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, which established the HealthCare.gov website and the exchanges. To date, these efforts have been to no avail, and last week the Supreme Court indicated it may be favorable to retaining the law after hearing challenges to its constitutionality from GOP-led plaintiffs.

President-elect Joe Biden has said he is favorable to strengthening and expanding the ACA, and favors a government-run public option to run parallel with private offerings.

But prior to Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20, 2021, CMS may release a final rule based on a proposed rule it released late on Thanksgiving Eve to allow states to implement Section 1332 waivers to waive certain ACA requirements. This allows states to decentralize enrollment through insurers and web brokers. Opponents have said this will expose consumers to junk plans. 

Georgia has already been approved for such a waiver.

Twitter: @JELagasse
Email the writer: jeff.lagasse@himssmedia.com