Sign-ups during the first two weeks of open enrollment for 2020 Affordable Care Act exchange coverage are trailing last year's numbers.
According to the CMS, about 932,000 people selected a health plan in the first two weeks of open enrollment, which kicked off on Nov. 1. That's about 244,000 fewer people than in the first two weeks of the previous open enrollment period.
Some experts have said that technical difficulties on HealthCare.gov during the first day of open enrollment may have contributed to the lower signup tally. Josh Peck, the former chief marketing officer for HealthCare.gov who is co-founder of nationwide campaign Get America Covered, estimated that those technical issues prevented about 100,000 people from selecting a plan that day.
The first two weeks of open enrollment this year also reflect one fewer day than that same window last year. The totals do not include people who signed up for coverage in states that operate their own exchanges and do not use HealthCare.gov.
So far, most of the people who selected a plan were renewing their coverage. A little more than a quarter were new customers that did not have a HealthCare.gov plan last year. According to Peck's analysis, fewer people renewed their coverage during the second week of open enrollment than during the same time last year, but there was an increase in the number of new people selecting plans.
"The decrease in renewal activity is concerning, but the increase in new enrollment is promising. In either case, it's too soon to draw conclusions," he wrote in a blog post.
Open enrollment ends on Dec. 15 in HealthCare.gov states. The average premiums for the most popular exchange plan are about 4% lower in 2020 than in 2019, though they are still very expensive for people who do not qualify for a federal subsidy. The number of insurers selling 2020 plans has also increased over 2019.
A total 11.4 million people selected a plan or were automatically enrolled during the last open enrollment, though not all of them paid their first month premiums.