Over 1.9 million people have selected a 2019 individual health plan from the federal healthcare exchange so far this year. That figure represents a significant number of people who have purchased an individual or family health insurance plan, but it’s a noticeably lower total than the signup tally from the same time last year.
Signups for Weeks Two and Three
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services evaluates insurance exchange signups based on weeks that run from Sunday through Saturday. Each year, by the end of week three, the six-week open enrollment period is approaching its halfway point. In 2018, week two was November 4-10, and week three was November 11-17.
By the end of week two, 1,176,232 people had selected 2019 plans. Of those selections, 804,556 had been made during that week. While 901,319 of the total selections were made by existing marketplace subscribers whose current plans are set to expire on December 31, nearly 275,000 of the signups were made by new subscribers who don’t currently have Obamacare plans.
Another 748,244 health insurance enrollments were finalized during week three, which brought the total number of 2019 marketplace signups thus far to 1,924,476. Of that total, nearly 457,000 were new enrollments while over 1.4 million were renewals made by individuals or families with 2018 Obamacare plans.
In its week three report, CMS also released a state-by-state breakdown of total enrollments for states using HealthCare.gov as their enrollment portal. Coming in at just under 490,000 finalized selections, Florida had the highest number of signups. With about 243,000 enrollments, Texas took second place. The other two states to top 100,000 signups were Georgia and North Carolina.
Additional Exchange Activity
In addition to finalized enrollments, CMS also tracks how many people have interacted with the marketplace in other ways. Over 2.4 million people used the federal healthcare website in week three, and more than 650,000 people chatted with a representative in the call center. Additionally, over 217,000 people used the website’s window shopping feature to learn about available plans.
HealthCare.gov users sometimes submit an application but don’t finalize their plan selections right away. Rather than reporting the number of applications submitted thus far, CMS tracks the total number of people on those submitted applications. Since many applications are for families with two or more members, this figure is higher than the number of applications that have been turned in.
By the end of week three, the applications that had been submitted represented over 3.3 million Americans. Some of these applicants have already finalized their plan selections, and many others may do so by the time that open enrollment ends on December 15, 2018.
Comparisons to Last Year’s Open Enrollment
Enrollment numbers were lower in weeks two and three of 2018 than they were the previous year. It’s worth noting that because open enrollment began on a Wednesday in 2017 but on a Thursday in 2018, the 2018 cumulative statistics include one less day of signups than the 2017 figures. Still, there’s a notable difference in enrollment from last year to this year.
By the end of week two in 2017, 1,478,250 people had finalized their choices for 2018 Obamacare plans – over 300,000 more people than this year. In week two alone, over 876,000 enrollments were completed. This figure decreased by more than 20,000 people in 2018.
Week three saw this year-to-year trend continue. By the end of week three in 2017, nearly 2.3 million people had enrolled in an Affordable Care Act marketplace health insurance plan. Just under 800,000 of those enrollments came in during week three alone. In 2018, the cumulative number dropped by more than 350,000, and the week-specific figure went down by about 50,000. Furthermore, applications for over 4 million Americans had been submitted by the end of week three in 2017 – over 800,000 more people than this year.
It’s still too soon to determine the final implications for the 2019 insurance market. Signups for 2019 Obamacare plans could catch up by the time the enrollment window closes on December 15, and automatic renewals may boost the total number of exchange participants as well. Plus, these figures only represent people shopping on HealthCare.gov. The CMS doesn’t track state-specific information for states with their own exchanges until the end of the enrollment season. These figures also don’t include plans purchased outside of government exchanges.