In the first week of open enrollment for 2019, 371,676 people selected plans using the Healthcare.gov website. Of those, 89,282 were new consumers and 282,394 were returning consumers renewing coverage. As in past years, enrollment weeks are measured Sunday through Saturday. Notably, these first figures account for only three days, from Thursday to Saturday.
The weekly snapshot reports new plan selections and active plan renewals, but not the number of consumers who have paid premiums to effectuate their enrollment. Every week during open enrollment, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will release enrollment snapshots for the Healthcare.gov platform.
WHY IT MATTERS
The Affordable Care Act, the dominant legislative legacy of President Obama, implemented the Healthcare.gov website as the primary means by which consumers could seek health insurance along with state exchanges, also known as the marketplace.
Major cuts to its marketing and outreach funding were made last year, with CMS spending $10 million on marketing and outreach for the 2018 season, which is just over $1 per Healthcare.gov enrollee, compared to $100 million and $11 per enrollee the previous year. After major efforts by the Republicans to undo the ACA entirely, the marketplace continues to serve millions of Americans who are seeking to initiate or continue health coverage.
For 2018, an estimated 11.8 million consumers enrolled in Affordable Care Act plans, down slightly from 12.2 million in 2017 and 12.7 million in 2016, an all-time high. For the 2018 open enrollment season's first week, which was only four days long, 601,462 people selected plans using the HealthCare.gov platform.
The lead-up to 2018's open enrollment not only saw the slashing of the promotional budget for the ACA, but the agency also cut navigator funding used by community organizations to help consumers select plans and shortened the enrollment period. The final 2018 numbers were still high.
Data from the federal health insurance exchange call center showed record consumer satisfaction ratings averaging 90 percent compared to 85 percent the previous year.
The 11.8 million consumers who enrolled for 2018 included 8.7 million consumers in the 39 states that employ Healthcare.gov and 3 million in the state-based exchanges, CMS said.
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