Just 12 days into open enrollment 2017, more than 1 million people have signed up for health insurance. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Studies (CMS), which has been tracking health insurance signups under the Affordable Care Act over the last six years, there’s been an upswing in enrollment this year – over 53,000 more signups during the first two weeks than the same time last year.
These figures come from a biweekly snapshot of enrollment posted by the CMS on Nov. 16. In the early weeks of enrollment, only federal marketplace signups get tracked. As enrollment continues, the CMS will include figures from state-based exchange sites as well. Reporting weeks run from Sunday through Saturday.
Open enrollment started on Nov. 1 and will run through Jan. 31 for coverage starting in 2017. Since the presidential election on Nov. 8, signups have surged. President-elect Trump made health care a focal point of his campaign. As the Republican nominee, he vowed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, which has been a priority among conservatives since the law was signed in 2010.
Following Trump’s election to the presidency, enrollment numbers increased dramatically. From Nov. 9 to Nov. 11, more than 300,000 people signed up for health insurance, bringing the total for enrollment up to over a million people. Of those million enrollees, nearly 250,000 are new customers for 2017. The remaining 750,000-plus enrollees have returned to re-enroll in new plans, a practice that the CMS and health insurance advocates strongly encourage.
It’s estimated that up to 2 million people could have to choose new policies for 2017 due to the withdrawal of several major insurers from the Obamacare exchanges. United Healthcare, Humana and Aetna announced earlier this year that they would be severing ties with or severely limiting participation in federal and state marketplaces. Several smaller companies also bowed out, leaving millions of Americans to find new policies in a much more limited exchange.
Sylvia Burwell, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), insists that most exchange customers will still have plenty of affordable health insurance options. According to the HHS, about 70 percent of marketplace customers will be able to find plans that cost $75 a month or less after advance premium tax credits.
Enrollment efforts are on the rise. The CMS is hoping that increased marketing to a younger demographic will pay off big for 2017 enrollment. Younger, healthier enrollees offset the cost of care for older and sicker consumers. Signups among the 18-to-34 crowd have not been as high as the CMS expected, so more concentrated efforts are being made this year to draw in a younger generation of enrollees.
Last year, the nation’s uninsured rate dropped to an all-time low of 8.6 percent. While Trump campaigned on a promise to repeal and replace Obamacare, it remains unclear whether he will follow through on that promise and what Trumpcare might look. For many Americans – especially the 20 million people who have gained health insurance through Obamacare – Trump’s position on health care will have substantial ramifications going forward.