HHS on Wednesday said it expects nearly 14 million U.S. residents to sign up for coverage through the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) exchanges during the upcoming open enrollment period, which begins Nov. 1 and ends Jan. 31, 2017.
HHS projected that signups will increase by 1.1 million, or about 9 percent, compared with last year. The department said it expects 13.8 million consumers to select a plan on the exchanges, up from 12.7 million who did so during that last enrollment period.
HHS also estimated that monthly number of Americans with effectuated coverage—those who officially stay enrolled in exchange plans by paying their premiums—will average 11.4 million during 2017, up from an average of 10.5 million in 2016. In a break from previous years, HHS did not predict how many U.S. residents would be enrolled in exchange plans by the end of 2017.
Of the 13.8 million estimated signups, HHS predicts that about 9.2 million will be returning exchange customers.
Among those who will sign up for exchange plans for the first time, HHS said it expects:
- About 3.5 million will come from the 10.7 million U.S. residents who are eligible for exchange coverage but have remained uninsured; and
- About 1.1 million will come from the 5.1 million individuals who are eligible for exchange coverage but have purchased unsubsidized plans from elsewhere.
Of the 10.7 million uninsured U.S. residents, HHS said:
- 85 percent have incomes that would make them eligible for federal subsidies;
- 60 percent would qualify for subsidies and other cost-sharing reductions; and
- 40 percent are between ages 18 and 34.
Obama admin starts final enrollment push
As the open enrollment period nears, the Obama administration is continuing its final push to make the exchanges more sustainable before President Obama leaves offices, The Hill reports.
During a news conference Wednesday, HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell reiterated that the administration believes 2017 will be a "transition period" as insurers adjust prices to better align with their actual costs.
She added, "This is the last open enrollment for this administration. We're going to make it count."
Burwell said officials are focusing their enrollment efforts on young adults to improve the exchange plans' risk pools.
As part of those efforts, Obama on Thursday will speak at Miami Dade College to encourage young adults to sign up for exchange coverage. The administration also has partnered with Twitch, a social platform for gamers, to raise awareness about coverage options and the financial penalty for lack coverage.
The administration has also called for changes to the ACA, such as a public option health plan to increase competition in the exchanges.
"We are hopeful that soon, we'll see bipartisan collaboration in Congress and the states that will help us make improvements to the law," Burwell said (O'Donnell/Korte, USA Today, 10/19; Armour, Wall Street Journal, 10/19; Goldstein, Washington Post, 10/19; Pear, New York Times, 10/19; Sullivan , The Hill, 10/19; Clarke, Reuters, 10/19; HHS release, 10/19; Sullivan , The Hill, 10/19; Carey, Kaiser Health News, 10/19; Superville, AP/Washington Times, 10/20).
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