On December 11, 2013, the Department of Health and Human Services released its second Health Insurance Marketplace enrollment report. The report covers the period from October 1 to November 30, 2013, rather than just November, as HHS has decided to issue cumulative exchange activity reports rather than discrete monthly totals. HHS is doing this to avoid duplicate counting of the same individuals — an applicant one month may receive an eligibility determination the next and enroll in a plan the following month. Nonetheless, it also makes sense to compare activity in discrete categories from month to month, the focus of this post.
The headline is that the number of eligible individuals who selected a plan is up dramatically in November. 106,185 individuals chose a plan in October through all exchanges; 258,497 additional individuals chose plans in November, 2.4 times as many. The increase in the federal exchange was even more dramatic, from 26,794 to 110,410, an over four-fold increase. Obviously, the enrollment process has become much more navigable.
By other metrics, however, exchange participation has increased less dramatically. 846,184 applications were completed for all exchanges in October; 981,256 more in November, an increase of only 16 percent. The number of completed applications in the federal exchange increased from 519,561 in October to 632,514 in November, an increase of 22 percent. The number of individuals determined eligible for enrollment in all exchanges increased from 1,081,592 in October to 1,225,891 in November, an increase of 13 percent. The federal exchange determined 822,789 individuals eligible in November, up about 17 percent from 702,619 in October. The number of discrete visitors to the exchange actually dropped dramatically from 26,876,527 in October to 12,214,691 additional visitors in November, some of whom were surely duplicates.
It is likely that many potential applicants (and certainly the navigators, application counselors, agents, and brokers working with them) took to heart the message that the exchange was broken and decided to stay away until the promised repair was completed at the end of November. I will be surprised if December numbers are not up dramatically.
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