“Our HealthCare.gov enrollment nearly doubled in the days before the Jan. 1 coverage deadline compared to the first weeks of the month,” CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner wrote in a blog post on New Year's Eve. “Nationwide, including state and federal marketplaces, December enrollment so far is nearly six times that of October and November combined.”
But concerns linger about whether everyone who thinks they signed up for coverage effective Jan. 1 actually will have coverage if they go to a healthcare provider. Insurers say they are worried they haven't received full and accurate enrollment information from the insurance exchanges. In addition, there are worries that a disproportionate share of the new enrollees are people with pre-existing medical conditions rather than younger, healthier people. The administration did not release any data on the age composition of the new pool of enrollees.
The federal site saw its peak day on Dec. 23—the deadline for enrolling for coverage effective Jan. 1—when it had 83,000 concurrent users. On Christmas Eve, the site had a total of 880,000 visits without any “queuing,” a system designed to send consumers an e-mail message alerting them when they can return to the site at the start of the line and complete their applications. Call centers were also busy on Christmas Eve, when the centers received 317,000 calls.
Tavenner said 3.9 million Americans learned in October and November that they're eligible for coverage through Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program, which includes both new eligibility determinations as well as Medicaid and CHIP renewals.
Despite the uptick in enrollment figures, the Republican side of the House Energy and Commerce Committee earlier this week posted a series of articles that warn consumers of what the Republicans say will be soaring healthcare costs in 2014 as a result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
“The president promised American families would see their healthcare costs go down an average of $2,500—but sadly, that pledge is turning out to be another broken promise as folks are bracing for the law's rate shock and higher costs set to kick in starting Jan. 1, 2014,” the committee's Republican leadership posted on the committee's site. “Not exactly a Happy New Year.”
Open enrollment for private coverage in 2014 continues through March 31, after which people who haven't signed up may face a tax penalty for not having insurance.