Private health insurance exchange eHealth recorded a sharply higher loss in the fourth quarter than in the year-ago comparable period as individual and family applications during the Affordable Care Act's open-enrollment period came in lower than expected.
eHealth lost $19.2 million in the quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with a $2 million loss in the same period of 2013. Revenue in the fourth quarter plummeted 17% to $45 million.
The company processed 100,400 individual and family health insurance applications in the quarter, a 41% decline from the year-ago period when eHealth handled 169,800 applications. The dismal results mirror the preliminary figures eHealth shared in January.
The ACA open-enrollment period lasted Nov. 15- Feb. 15. Dec. 15 was the first major deadline. Those who signed up by that date would have coverage in effect by the first of the year.
By Jan. 2, approximately 7.4 million people signed up for or re-enrolled in health coverage for 2015. But eHealth's business only represented a small slice of that total and did not live up the company's high aspirations for the period.
“We are currently reviewing our open-enrollment period performance and are taking a close look at the cost structure of our business,” eHealth CEO Gary Lauer said in a news release.
As of Feb. 15, 11.4 million Americans had ACA coverage in the state and federal marketplaces. HHS announced a special enrollment period will occur between March 15 and April 30 for those who were unaware of the tax penalties.
On the year, eHealth recorded a net loss of $16.2 million compared with a $1.7 million profit in 2013. eHealth's 2014 revenue was essentially flat at about $180 million. Revenue related to Medicare annual enrollment sign-ups was a bright side for the company, increasing 15% year over year.
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