Nearly 2 million dropped Obamacare coverage through mid-March
The CMS reported late Monday that of the 12.2 million people who enrolled in a health plan during the 2017 open enrollment period, 10.3 million paid their premiums and had an active policy as of March 15.
A second CMS report also released late Monday showed that consumers who dropped off the insurance rolls were less likely to receive financial assistance from the federal government to pay for coverage, so their premiums were higher than most.
Moreover, 60% of consumers who terminated coverage after paying premiums for at least one month said during an online exit survey by the CMS that they dropped coverage because they obtained employer-sponsored insurance. The CMS collected survey data from more than 18,000 individuals who dropped coverage from August 2016 to April 2017.
For the nearly 4,000 people who dropped coverage prior to paying the first month's premium, 49% said they found coverage elsewhere and 46% attributed the move to premium increases or ineligibility for financial assistance, the CMS said. Enrollment data also showed that individuals whose insurer left the market were more likely to forgo coverage.
It is not unusual for enrollment to decrease throughout the year. During the 2016 open enrollment period, 12.7 million people enrolled in a health plan through the ACA exchanges. Of those, 11.1 million people paid their premiums after three months, and 10.4 million people carried an active policy after six months, according to CMS reports released last year.
And in 2015, while 11.7 million people enrolled in coverage during open enrollment, 10.2 million consumers had paid their premiums as of March 31 that year, and 9.9 million paid as of June 30, 2015, according to the CMS.
"As costs continue to go up, fewer Americans can afford to pay more and get less for healthcare," HHS Secretary Tom Price said in a statement announcing the reports. "Many individuals and families across the country are tired of having their healthcare options dictated to them by Washington—particularly when those limited options are unaffordable."
In a separate statement, CMS Administrator Seema Verma said, "consumers are sending a clear message that cost and affordability are major factors in their decision to cancel or terminate coverage."
Neither Price or Verma's statements mentioned that the bulk of those who dropped coverage picked it up from an employer.
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