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November 14, 2019

Total federal exchange signups down by 20% from last year, CMS data shows

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    CMS on Wednesday announced 932,049 individuals have signed up for federal exchange plans so far during the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) current open enrollment period—which is down 20% when compared with the first two weeks of last year's open enrollment period.

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    The federal open enrollment period for the 2020 coverage year launched Nov. 1 and is scheduled to close on Dec. 15.

    The data CMS released Wednesday includes federal exchange signups that occurred as of Nov. 9. The second week of the ACA's current open enrollment period spanned from Nov. 3 to Nov. 9. CMS said it will update the data every week during the open enrollment period.

    The data includes signups in the 39 states that use the federal exchange for enrollment. The data do not indicate whether individuals paid their first month's premiums, a step that effectively completes the enrollment process.

    754K signed up for federal exchange plans last week

    CMS said 754,967 individuals selected federal exchange plans during the second week of the open enrollment period. According to CMS, that figure included:

    • 196,005 new customers; and
    • 558,962 returning customers.

    In total, CMS said 932,049 individuals have selected federal exchange plans since the open enrollment period launched on Nov. 1.

    CMS said the federal exchange enrollment call center during the first eight days of the open enrollment period received 622,639 calls, including 478,471 calls during the open enrollment period's second week. had more than 3.48 million users, including about 2.58 million users during the second week of open enrollment.

    Signups down 20% from last year

    Overall, signups during the first two weeks of the current open enrollment period are down 20% when compared with the 371,676 signups that occurred during the first two weeks of last year's open enrollment period:

    Observers have cited technical glitches during the first day of this year's open enrollment, as well as the fewer number of days in this year's first two weeks of open enrollment when compared with last year, as reasons why signups appear down so far this year.

    Get America Covered Co-Founder Josh Peck, who oversaw ACA enrollment under former President Barack Obama's administration, in a blog post wrote that fewer individuals renewed their federal exchange coverage during the second week of this year's open enrollment period when compared with the second week of last year's open enrollment period. However, he wrote that the number of new customers who signed up for plans increased when compared with last year. "The decrease in renewal activity is concerning, but the increase in new enrollment is promising. In either case, it's too soon to draw conclusions," he wrote (Lovelace, CNBC, 11/13; Livingston, Modern Healthcare, 11/13; CMS fact sheet, 11/13).

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