As the Affordable Care Act’s second enrollment period draws to a close, the government has good news to report: Approximately 9.5 million people have signed up for health insurance using federal or state marketplaces this year, which exceeds expectations set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services earlier this year. The open enrollment period has been running since Nov. 15 and will end on Feb. 15. Time is running out for consumers, but the last-minute surge in enrollment looks promising for proponents of the ACA.
Enrollment by the Numbers
The HHS reported that around 7.1 million people had signed up for health insurance via the federal exchange site by mid-January. Now, the agency is reporting that about 2.4 million people have enrolled using state-run exchanges. Combined, this equals approximately 9.5 million total sign-ups for the season. Final numbers will exclude those who don’t pay their premiums. It’s not clear at this point how many of the 9.5 million enrollees have paid for their plans yet.
The Final Countdown
The surge in enrollment over the past few weeks is most likely due to two major factors: money and time. In 2014, the fine for not having insurance was the greater of $95 or 1 percent of an individual’s taxable income (whichever is greater), but the fee jumps significantly in 2015 to $325 per adult or 2% of your income.
Money could be driving the last-minute push to buy insurance, but time also plays a role. The ACA’s initial enrollment period last year lasted a total of six months. The enrollment period has been cut in half this year. With holidays and tax time bookending the enrollment season, it makes sense that more people are making a last-ditch effort to secure coverage for 2015.
Healthcare officials have been encouraging people to spend more time on the marketplace this year because options have changed. Despite price increases, there may be more affordable coverage available than there was last year thanks to new insurer participants and new plans. If you haven’t had a chance to look for coverage yet this year, then don’t wait much longer. Open enrollment ends Feb. 15, so now is the time to review your options. You can get started here.