Obamacare sign ups are crushing their pace from last year - but there's still a huge problem

 Obamacare sign ups are crushing their pace from last year - but there's still a huge problem

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Larry Downing/Reuters

Barack Obama

  • The number of people enrolling in Obamacare insurance plans through the first three weeks of the sign-up period is higher than the number of people who signed up through four weeks in 2016.
  • While the pace if enrollment is higher than last year, the enrollment period is just six weeks instead of 12.
  • That means that the total number of sign ups could still be substantially lower than 2016, a worrying sign for the future of the individual insurance market.

Enrollment in the Affordable Care Act's federally funded insurance marketplace is crushing last year's pace, according to a new report, but the long-term outlook remains more complicated.

An enrollment snapshot released Wednesday from the Department and Health and Human Services (HHS) and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) showed that enrollments in healthcare plans through the federally funded Healthcare.gov exchange has paced well ahead of last year.

Through November 18, 2,277,079 people enrolled in a Healthcare.gov plan. Of those, 566,042 are new customers, and 1,711,037 are returning enrollees.

That's a much faster pace than last year. Through the first full month of enrollment in 2016, just 2,137,717 people had enrolled in total, and 519,492 were new enrollees.


Sign ups are on pace for their fastest enrollment ever. But there's a catch.

The open-enrollment period for Healthcare.gov plans in 2017 is half the length as previous years - just six weeks - due to a rule change from the Trump administration.

When compared to the halfway mark of open enrollment in 2016, this year lags well behind. For instance, through week six of the 12-week enrollment period last year, there were 4,015,709 total selections and 1,103,507 new enrollees.

A lower pace of enrollment is likely to lead to a sicker pool of people signing up, according to health policy experts, and could undermine some of the individual insurance market's stability.