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ACA sign-ups spike at open enrollment's start

ACA sign-ups spike at open enrollment's start

More than 200,000 Americans chose a plan on Nov. 1
ACA sign-ups spike at open enrollment's start
Healthcare.gov in 2016.
Photographer: Shutterstock

In the first few days of open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act, the numbers of participants has surged compared with the past, according to federal officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the administration has yet to release official numbers.

More than 200,000 Americans chose a plan on Nov. 1, the day open enrollment began, according to one administration official. That's more than double the number of consumers who signed up on the first day of enrollment last year. More than 1 million people visited HeathCare.gov, the official federal website, the official said, which amounts to roughly a 33 percent increase in traffic compared with 2016.

These figures capture only a portion of the nation's overall ACA enrollment, because they encompass states that either use the federal health-care marketplace or rely on its website for their consumers to sign up for coverage. More than a dozen states and the District of Columbia run their own programs and do not use HealthCare.gov.

The Hill first reported the uptick in enrollment on Monday night.

An official at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services who was not authorized to speak on the record said in an email that the agency was not releasing numbers at this time. "We plan to release enrollment snapshot data regularly throughout open enrollment as we have done in the past," the official said.

Many advocates of the law known as Obamacare were concerned that consumers wouldn't sign up for coverage because Congress had tried to repeal it multiple times this year, and President Trump had repeatedly described it as either "failing" or "dead."

But on opening day, many state exchange officials said that enrollment had exceeded their projections.

Connect for Health Colorado spokesman Luke Clarke said state officials had expected that 2,700 residents would log on to their exchange on Nov. 1, but more than 4,000 did. "It's way ahead of where we were last year, and a big surprise," he said.

That same day in Connecticut, 1,596 residents enrolled in qualified health plans on the state exchange while another 2,293 people either completed Medicaid applications or determined that they were eligible for the federal entitlement program. Access Health CT CEO Jim Wadleigh said in a statement that the state's call center and website experienced a 15 percent increase in volume compared to opening day last year.

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