More than 300,000 people selected a health plan through HealthCare.gov in the second week of open enrollment, about 162,000 fewer enrollees than the first week, new government data released Wednesday show.
HHS said for Nov. 22-28, 303,010 people submitted an application to purchase a specific health plan. However, that week included Thanksgiving and Black Friday, the day that traditionally kicks off the holiday shopping season.
Through the first two weeks of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's latest open-enrollment period, 765,135 people chose a health plan on the federal marketplaces. Those numbers are only for the 37 states that rely on HealthCare.gov for all or part of their insurance exchange operations.
Additionally, those numbers do not factor in people who have paid their first month's premium. Paying that initial premium is the final step before health coverage can begin.
More than half (52%) of HealthCare.gov consumers were renewing their coverage from 2014, indicating that many people may have heeded industry advise to shop for potentially better deals.
HHS also relayed that more than 5.4 million people accessed HealthCare.gov from Nov. 15 through Nov. 28, and almost 1.6 million people called for help. The government did not say how many people are eligible for premium and cost-sharing subsidies.
The numbers come one week after HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said open enrollment was “off to a solid start” but cautioned that it was still early to make broad conclusions. HHS anticipates anywhere from 9 million to almost 10 million people will enroll in health plans through the federal exchanges by the end of 2015, about 3 million less than what the Congressional Budget Office projected.
Enrollment on the state-based exchanges has varied, but many have shown strong enrollment compared with the same time last year. Minnesota, for example, said Wednesday that almost 19,000 state residents have enrolled in a certified health plan or Medicaid, which is 17 times higher than last year.
Open enrollment ends Feb. 15. People must sign up for coverage by Dec. 15 if they want the coverage to start Jan. 1.
Follow Bob Herman on Twitter: @MHbherman