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More than 818,000 people select healthcare plans in first week of open enrollment

The numbers are up from 2019 Week 1, but there are also more days in this year's snapshot period.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

During the first week of the 2020 open enrollment period, from November 1 to 7, 818,365 people selected plans using the HealthCare.gov platform.

The enrollment figures are a jump from last year when 177,082 people signed up, but enrollment weeks are measured Sunday through Saturday, and last year, the first week was just two days long – Friday, November 1 and Saturday, November 2, 2019.

This year, the enrollment week is a full seven days.

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The closest comparison may be 2015, when the first week of open enrollment was also seven days long. From November 1-7, 2015, 543,098 people enrolled, a decided decrease from this year.

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, accounting for 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 first snapshot of open enrollment figures by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services during this sign-up period.

Of those selecting plans, 173,344 were new consumers, while 645,021 were renewing coverage. More than 1,461,000 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 December 31, 2020 and had a 2021 plan selection. They're considered a renewing consumer if they have 2020 exchange coverage through December 31, 2020 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 3,132,427 HealthCare.gov users recorded during the initial week, and 105,800 on the Spanish-speaking equivalent, CuidadoDeSalud.gov. The two sites saw 211,633 and 10,952 window shoppers, respectively.

THE LARGER TREND

Just 177,082 consumers selected plans on HealthCare.gov during the first week of open enrollment in 2019, which was actually two days long. Of those, 48,923 were new consumers, while 128,159 were renewing their coverage.

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 this 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.

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