Four Things You May Have Missed In Last Week’s Big Health Care Enrollment Announcement

By Jessica Adair

Last week, HHS announced that 7.1 million consumers had enrolled in a plan through HealthCare.Gov or a state-based Health Insurance Marketplace. For those anxiously waiting to check the temperature on this year’s Open Enrollment period, the announcement was a big deal, especially considering that Open Enrollment does not end until February 15th and we expect there to be a significant uptick in sign-ups in the final stretch.

At Young Invincibles, we’ve looked beyond the latest numbers to spot any additional clues about the health of Open Enrollment. Here are four indicators you may have missed that suggest numbers are even higher than yet reported:

Big numbers are missing: The 7.1 million figure includes 6.5 million consumers who signed up for the first time or re-enrolled in a plan through the federally-facilitated marketplace. It also includes 633,000 additional consumers who enrolled in the 14 state-based marketplaces.

That data, however, excludes great swaths of the population that will receive coverage through their state marketplaces. Many states reported incomplete enrollment data. California and New York, for example, only reported the number of new enrollees, not the number of consumers who actively re-enrolled by choosing a new plan, or those who were automatically reenrolled in the plan they selected last year.

Given that almost 1.8 million consumers in just those two states selected a marketplace plan last year, we expect to see a jump in enrollment numbers when the rest of the state-based marketplaces release re-enrollment data.

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Image courtesy of the White House

Yes, young people are enrolling: To answer the perennial Open Enrollment question, HHS compared the portion of young enrollees to 2014 enrollment data. At this point last year, 29% of enrollees were under the age of 34. This year, that number has slightly increased. People under the age of 34 accounted for 33% of new enrollees or those who selected a new plan. That’s a good sign, considering that young people tend respond to deadlines (at least around the Young Invincibles office). Like last year, we expect the number of young enrollees to rise as we approach the end of Open Enrollment.

New people are showing up: Those who missed out on last year’s Open Enrollment have started enrolling. Of the 37 states that use the HealthCare.Gov platform, 52% of those who enrolled by December 15th were new consumers. That means that 1.8 million
people enrolled in the Marketplace for the first time. As outreach gets more aggressive towards the end of Open Enrollment, this number will likely rise.

Consumers shopped around: Many advocates were concerned that last year’s enrollees would not revisit the Marketplace to check out new plans offered this year and potentially find a better deal. While those who do not update their applications and look for a new plan will remain covered through automatic enrollment, they could miss out on the opportunity to find a cheaper plan.

We were pleasantly surprised to hear that 40% of those enrolled through the Federally-Facilitated Marketplace came back to HealthCare.Gov, updated their application and selected a new plan. Find out how to navigate your own health options at YoungInvincibles.org/ReadySetEnroll!

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