On March 11, 2014, the Department of Health and Human Services released its Health Insurance Marketplace March Enrollment Report covering the period of October 1, 2013 through March 1, 2014. The Report covers, that is to say, five of the six months of the 2014 open enrollment period, which ends on March 31, 2014.
As of March 1, 4,242,300 individuals had selected a health plan through the federal and state exchanges, including 1,621,239 who signed up through the state exchanges and 2,621,086 who signed up through the federal exchange. New plan selections were down somewhat in February, with 942,000 individuals selecting a plan as compared to 1,146,000 in January, but February was a short month and the January report included a few days from December, so this does not necessarily indicate a drop in momentum.
There is every reason to believe, moreover, that enrollment will climb sharply in March, the last month of open enrollment. Experience with programs with open enrollment periods, such as Medicare Part D, Massachusetts Commonwealth Care, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program indicates that people tend to put off signing up for coverage until the last moment. During the 2012 FEHBP open enrollment period, 22 percent of those who changed enrollment did so in the last two days. The administration and partner organizations are also continuing to ramp up enrollment efforts, while exchanges continue to expand capacity.
It is quite likely, therefore, that the exchanges will sign up 6 million individuals—the revised Congressional Budget Office estimate—by March 31, perhaps more. Moreover, even after March 31, millions of additional Americans will qualify for special enrollment periods, for example because they lose Medicaid or employer coverage; thus, the total number of enrollees could easily exceed CBO estimates by the end of 2014.
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