Individuals new to the federal insurance marketplace made up nearly half of the last-minute enrollees, according to data released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
CMS officials said that of the 1.8 million people who purchased insurance coverage in the last 5 days of open enrollment, 48% were new customers. The open enrollment period was extended for 2 days past the original Dec. 15 deadline following a late surge in demand, including the single highest day of individuals enrolling for coverage – 600,000 on Dec. 15 – during the 3 years of the federal marketplace.
In total, 6 million people signed up for coverage through HealthCare.gov during this open enrollment season, which began Nov. 1, including 2.4 million newly enrolled people and 3.6 million returning to actively enroll in coverage. CMS did not have figures for how many people will be automatically reenrolled, and the figures released account for the federal marketplace only and do not include those who are enrolling through the 13 state-run marketplaces.
“It’s clear that people have been waiting for this open enrollment period to come to the marketplace and purchase coverage,” CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt said during a Dec. 18 press briefing.
He cited a number of factors driving enrollment, including the increasing tax penalty for noncoverage, which can be $695 or more; a desire to have insurance; affordability, particularly when accounting for federal subsidies; and improvements to the shopping experience, including better cost estimates and decision support tools.