- Enrollment in the Affordable Care Act during the fourth open enrollment period was down for the first time with a total of 9.2 million sign ups, a drop of nearly 500,000 from the year before.
- There was a major drop in enrollment during the final week of this open enrollment period compared to the previous one. Many health policy advocates are pointing to the decision President Donald Trump’s administration made to pull advertising for Healthcare.gov in the final days as a primary reason for the lull in enrollments.
- It’s not clear what form of coverage will be available for those who signed up as the GOP continues its debate on repealing, replacing and repairing the ACA. In an interview that aired just before the Super Bowl on Sunday, President Donald Trump said he would like to see it accomplished “by the end of the year,” The New York Times reported. "[W]e should have something within the year and the following year."
The drop in enrollment for the last week was significant, with about 375,000 signing up in the last week of this enrollment season compared to nearly 700,000 for the 2016 period. This is important because the young and healthy people needed to stabilize the ACA risk pools have historically signed up in the final days on open enrollment.
Supporters of the law blamed the Trump administration move to halt advertising and some outreach for the lull during last six days of enrollment.
ACA enrollment was up a few weeks ago, but fell behind last year in the final week. Only thing that really changed was the pulling of ads.— Larry Levitt (@larry_levitt) February 3, 2017
About 3 million of those who signed up were new consumers and its far from clear what kind of coverage they will find available. Top Republicans have recently tamped down their calls for immediate repeal of the ACA because they are worried about suddenly taking coverage away from millions of people. Trump has pushed for quick action, but the interview that aired Sunday signals he may be on board for a more measured approach.
The numbers released late last week do not include the 11 states that run their own exchanges and are not limited to those who have paid premiums. A more detailed report is expected in March.