Despite early technical problems, nationwide uncertainty and constant legal challenges, the Affordable Care Act hit another positive milestone at the close of its second open enrollment period in February. Health and Human Services Department Secretary Sylvia Burwell announced in early March that enrollment had reached 11.7 million by the time the marketplaces closed on Feb. 22. The second enrollment season officially ended on Feb. 15, but those who were still waiting in line via phone or website had the chance to finish up their applications through the following week.
Detailed Enrollment Figures
On Feb. 25, the Health and Human Services Department released its preliminary numbers for the final enrollment week as well as the cumulative sign-ups for the entire enrollment period. Approximately 8.8 million people signed up for health insurance policies using the federal exchange site HealthCare.gov between Nov. 15, 2014 and Feb. 22, 2015. About 12.4 million applications were submitted, and call center volume reached more than 15.3 million during the three-month enrollment period. The Spanish-language version of the federal exchange also saw promising numbers. A little more than 1.3 million people used CuidadoDeSalud.gov during open enrollment.
Earlier this year, the Congressional Budget Office projected that about 12 million people would sign up for health insurance by the end of open enrollment. While sign-ups fell just short of the CBO’s estimates, the number of consumers who enrolled in a health plan actually exceeded the government’s own projections by about three million people.
Enrollment numbers reported by the HHS include consumers who re-enrolled in an existing policy, but they don’t include sign-ups from state-run health exchange sites. In addition, consumers who don’t pay their premiums may end up getting dropped from their policies as permitted under the ACA. The current numbers reflect only raw data on enrollment and may need to be adjusted throughout the year to account for these discrepancies.
Boosting Support for the ACA
These enrollment figures represent a shift in mentality among Americans nationwide as more people jump on board the Affordable Care Act bandwagon. Though the new law was met with apprehension by some, many people throughout the United States continue to find a good reason to sign up for insurance. Affordable premiums, advance premium tax credits and a variety of plan options make signing up for health insurance easier than ever thanks to the ACA.
This year in particular, consumers will feel for the first time the financial downside of forgoing insurance altogether. The IRS is collecting the shared responsibility fee from taxpayers who didn’t sign up for coverage in 2014. Next year, the fee increases to the greater of $325 or 2 percent of a consumer’s taxable income.
For those who missed the boat on insurance this year and have been hit with the non-compliance fee, the government is extending the sign-up period for about six weeks. Consumers have between now and April 30 to enroll in a qualifying health plan through the marketplace if they qualify for the extra enrollment period. For Latio enrollment go here – Para la inscripción latina comenzar aquí.