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ACA open enrollment picks up in week 3, but is still a 13% drop over last year

Week 3 of open enrollment sees 26% fewer signups than in 2017, when there were two additional days to enroll.

Susan Morse, Senior Editor

The number of people signing up for health plans under the Affordable Care Act is down 13% over last year by the end of week three of open enrollment, but the figures have risen over the 20% drop at the end of week two.

Open enrollment began on November 1, as it did last year. But there is one less day by the end of week three this year compared to last, as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services measures enrollment Sunday through Saturday.

This year, from November 1-16, 1,669,401 individuals enrolled through Healthcare.gov. Last year, from November 1-17, 1,925,476 people signed up, a difference of over 255,000 enrollees.

WHY THIS MATTERS

Insurers have jumped back into the ACA market, or have expanded their footprint, after cutting back on plan offerings for 2018. This year, there are more plan offerings for 2020 and premiums, or premium increases, are lower than in past years.

There are many factors that influence enrollment and there are still four weeks to go before open enrollment ends on December 15.

Individuals are no longer mandated to have coverage or face a tax penalty. The individual mandate was no longer in place for 2019 plans.

Also, more people may have health insurance through their employers. The unemployment rate this year is 3.2%, compared to 3.9% in December 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

From November 10-16, 737,352 people selected plans using the HealthCare.gov platform, compared to 748,244 during the same week in 2018 ending November 17, which represents only a 1.4% drop.

THE LARGER TREND, BY THE NUMBERS

For the full three weeks of open enrollment for 2020, 1,669,401 people have selected plans, with 431,574 being new consumers , and 1,237,827 individuals renewing their coverage.

In 2018, during the first three weeks of open enrollment for 2019, a total of 1,924,476 individuals signed up, with 456,907 being new consumers and 1,467,569 renewing coverage.

Both years are outdone by enrollment for 2018, when the total number of individuals signing up reached 2,277,079 by the end of week three on November 18, 2017.

Even accounting for two additional days to enroll in 2017, this year represents more than a 26% drop in ACA enrollment compared to two years ago.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
Email the writer: susan.morse@himssmedia.com